A little over a year ago, a girl at Holly's school (Ouachita Baptist) passed away unexpectedly. She was a college girl, with her whole life ahead of her. She was a daughter, a sister and a friend. I don't know the family personally, but her story touched all of us who have children around that age...because isn't that one of your worst nightmares as a parent? That something would happen to one of your children?
Especially a seemingly healthy college student, who goes to bed one night and wakes up with Jesus.
As Christians, we say things like, "there's no safer place to be than in the center of God's will."
And we say, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." TRUE. But what are we to do with all the feelings? All the memories...plans...expectations?
And what are we to do with the idea that PARENTS ARE NOT SUPPOSED OUT-LIVE THEIR CHILDREN.
They just aren't.
It's wrong on so many levels.
And I'm here to tell you, it doesn't matter if your child is 5 or 55, it ain't right.
But God has a plan. His ways are higher than our ways, and we don't always understand the things He allows to come to us.
A child...away at college...flying to Jesus in the middle of the night? How do you ever prepare for that?
These words from her grieving father have stayed with me for a year and a half: "We are never ready, but in Jesus, we are prepared."
Death awaits all of us. Some of us will see it sooner...some later. Some of us will have sickness; some of us will suffer. But we will ALL die. Well, unless Jesus returns before our time.
We see death as a bad thing...a sad thing...and we dread it. Maybe not so much for ourselves, as for the ones we leave behind. But, as Christians, we know that death is not the end...it's the beginning.
Sickness and suffering in the life of a Believer does not come as a surprise to God. He is well-acquainted with suffering and death, because He sent His very own Son to suffer and die for OUR sins.
I think He spends our whole lives preparing us for our struggles, even if we don't recognize what He's doing at the time. We learn to trust Him in smaller things, and find that He is faithful in the big things.
In the Bible, Jesus tells us that He has been preparing for us to join Him one day!
Two of our 4 kids are married. When they come home, I am so excited! I prepare for them. I put clean sheets on the beds and clean towels in the bathrooms. I put out fresh soaps and shampoos. I shop for the things I know they like, and I fix their favorite foods.
And then I watch...and I wait.
I walk to the front window and look out front a thousand times. And when I hear the garage door go up, I think my heart will burst with happiness! But, I don't sit in my house and wait for them to come in. OH NOOOOO! I RUN out to greet them in the driveway, or on the street where they've parked...and I walk with them into our home.
The Bible says the place Jesus is preparing for us has "many mansions." It's a beautiful place, with 12 gates, each one made out of one pearl; a place where the street is made of pure gold. It's a place where there is no more death or sorrow or crying or pain...and GOD Himself will wipe every tear from our eyes!
We don't like it, this suffering, we have to go through...or watch our loved ones go through. We don't ever want to let them go, even if we know they are just moving to Our Father's House. And even tho we know we will see them soon.
I imagine He is so excited for us to get there, anticipating our arrival, and making sure that everything is just right.
And He's not just waiting...He is coming to meet us...and, when the time is right, He will walk us all the way HOME.
"We are never ready...but in Jesus, we are prepared."
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you...Isaiah 43:1-2