As a little girl growing up, when I began to experience the passing away of friends and family members, it used to really rattle me to leave a funeral – feeling that big empty hole inside – and then step back out into the world where people were still running here and there, going to work, buying groceries, pumping gas … oblivious to the loss and pain other people were experiencing. It felt irreverent to think that people were hurting, and yet the rest of the world just went on about their business.
Sometimes it was my own family. We’d gather after the funeral at a restaurant where we’d laugh and talk and visit with friends and relatives we hadn’t seen in a while, with scant mention of the one who passed.
Now I’m all grown up and I find that the roles have switched. The world has come undone ... war and murder in far away places; riots, unrest and crime just down the street in our own towns and homes. People are dying daily.
And what am I doing? Sitting at home writing blogs about TV shows and storytelling and having fun doing my most favorite thing – throwing little digs at those insane flat earthers.
I have become what I loathed!!
… but, wait a minute … as I recall, at funerals, even the busy public will pause traffic momentarily to acknowledge and respect the funeral procession as it passes by … it’s all about balance. But as an over-thinking creative, it can be difficult to find that balance … time for a prayer meeting!
Prayer is the single most important tool I’ve got. I get answers when I pray.
They’re not usually the kind of answers where God shows up and straightens out people and the world with lightning bolts and thunder, though that can happen sometimes. I like those kind of answers, because I want justice, and I want it NOW! My definition of “justice” is usually about straightening out the other guy who’s doing things that aren’t right. Fix them now, God!!
God’s very attuned to what’s happening in my home and on the planet at large. There’s nothing that humans are doing that is taking Him by surprise. He’s got a plan, and it’s playing out. We don’t understand it, or even really like it, but He’s God and we’re not. One thing is for certain … it WILL play out.
As for an answer to my prayer, He just reminds me of the running conversation I have with my Mom … having her here and seeing the end of life play out in front of me has really given me an eye-opening perspective on life. She was married to my Dad for 70 years! She buried 2 kids – one at age 24 and one in infancy. She raised 3 kids and lived in the same little house they bought 58 years ago.
Now Dad’s gone, the house is gone, and all that’s left is memories, and even those are fading fast. She still has my sister and myself, and, while good, it’s not the same as having your spouse. She lives with me and my husband and, while our home is comfortable, it’s not the same as having your own space and your own stuff.
Like many older people, she wonders aloud about why she’s still here. I can’t give her that answer, except to tell her that I’m glad she is here, because even if she thinks she has no purpose, I’m cherishing every minute and making up for the 45 years we lost.
She thinks she’s a big burden, because there’s not a lot she can do for herself, and she sees me trying to squeeze in chores and work and trying to keep daily life running smoothly. I don’t always succeed, but a little neglected dust and a few late nights catching up on work is a small price to pay for the joy of a relationship restored.
When mom gets down, I remind her that something better is coming. Old age, lost faculties, dust, work, war and evil are all part of this temporary, doomed world. We don’t know when the suffering will end, but we do know that it WILL END!
One day she’s going to wake up and hear angels singing and my Dad’s voice again. She will meet her infant son who she never knew on earth. And her other son who suffered with severe disabilities during his short life on earth, will be whole and healthy. All the pain and grief she’s experiencing now will be a mere faint memory.
The things she’s “lost” were just the temporary things. They were just useful for a season while she invested in the permanent things she’ll keep … the relationships and love she had for the important people in her life.
This is the hope that Christ gives us. Our world is screwed up because of sin and Jesus is the answer to that. Sin brought us death and suffering. Jesus overcame sin, defeated death and gives us life … and HOPE!
So for anyone out there who, like me, has days when you just avoid the news, and it all feels useless, and what difference does it make anyway … heads up!
Embrace that hope and follow Christ! Know that when you are going about your normal life, doing your normal work, serving your family and your community, and keeping life as normal as you can in this crazy world … take heart and know that you are investing in the important permanent things.
It may not feel like it. You might not get any immediate feedback. You won't likely understand. Just keep following Him and He will guide you. You will sense His promptings to go here, do that. You will know you’re right in step with Him by the incredible peace and joy He will fill you with. Peace and joy that transcends any of the troubles you are enduring!
Who knows ... maybe He'll place a calling on your life, and lead you out to be like King David! You'll go out against impossible odds, slay your Goliath and save the world in the process!!! ... maybe ...
More likely what will happen is that you will continue to get up and go to work everyday to take care of yourself and your family. You'll be changing oil and washing dishes and trying to stretch those dollars. At the end of the day you'll turn on the news and learn about the madness that's going on. It will sadden you, and frustrate you ... but you are no longer hopeless. It won't paralyze you. These are temporary things we must endure.
You will be moved to pray about it, because God acts when His people pray. He might move you to support others who are helping out on the front lines of the battle. But He needs some of His soldiers to stay home and take care of things there. We are making investments in the permanent things. We are raising the next generation and teaching them and preparing them for the time when they will be doing the work of investing and encouraging. Until He returns and sets things right, that's our job.
As creatives, our "work" can feel like play, and we might be tempted to think that in the grand scheme of things, we're not making much of a contribution, but that's just lies the enemy throws at us to discourage from doing and being what our Creator designed us for. Sometimes the most dangerous weapons we can wield are keyboards and brushes!
We walk by faith here in the temporary world. But one day in the permanent world, we will see clearly and then we will understand. All the temporary sufferings that were endured will be a misty memory ...
It will be a storyteller's dream-come-true, because I for one can't wait to hear all the true stories of people's lives and how they overcame!