As I walked back to the hotel tonight, I passed the workers setting up for the Sunday market and suddenly realized we have been in Paris more than a week. Last Sunday we bought some bread, cheese and veggies and had a solemn picnic in the park before going to see how Steve was doing on life support. A week before that I was rushing him to a Russian hospital in a van (that pretended to be an ambulance) at 2 am in the morning. They told me to remember him as he was and they didn’t seem to have much hope. That was 2 weeks ago. 14 days! It seems that life stood still and time kept moving. One thing I’ve learned is that we don’t appreciate how quickly it all can change. I’m writing this as my heart is rejoicing over the fact that Steve kissed me back when I told him goodnight tonight. Albeit weak, it was the best kiss ever. How far we have come from multiple organ failure to hearing him say a few words to the girls as they told him they had to leave tomorrow! Thank you Jesus for that gift.
But, I’m also very aware that there are many tonight who aren’t rejoicing. I know because we’ve heard from them. Many of them. One sweet woman lost her mom this week. Someone else lost their marriage. Another is struggling as her husband is not doing well with cancer and another is watching her dad decline in ICU. My heart aches for them. My soul cries out for the Holy Spirit to comfort them and to wrap them in that unexplainable protection of his love that we have experienced in the last 14 days. Meg and I have talked a lot about how to trust God when things don’t turn out like we’d like them to. I have no answers to that but I hope and pray we would. He has shown himself to be so trustworthy and good to us in the past so how could I not trust him when things get hard? I’ve begun to think that the secret to our peace is found in our focus. Are my eyes more focused on, and invested in, this world or in eternity? Unfortunately, I think I live most of my life forgetting that the truest reality and the most “real” life will be experienced after death. This is just a dress rehearsal for eternity with God. Many may not agree with me but that’s okay. I hope they’ll come to know the peace, forgiveness and intimacy of being known and loved by an almighty God. It changes things. It changes life. And, ironically, taking our focus off of this world and placing it on heaven actually gives this life much more beauty, depth, meaning and purpose. I can’t explain it – but I’ve lived it. Every gift of love, every breath, every friendship, every kindness…it’s all a gift from God and it becomes sweeter and more precious when I realize just how fragile and how precarious it is. As I enjoy these gifts, I want to do it with gratitude and thanksgiving with a focus on pointing people to Jesus and how to experience real life with Him. This life is precious and every good thing in it is a gift from the Father, but REAL life – eternal life – life that we can’t even comprehend starts when we step over that line of the physical into the spiritual and we see Jesus face to face.
I hope this post isn’t insensitive. I realize that my nightmare hasn’t ended like so many others’ and my burdens aren’t as heavy as most around the world. I won’t assume to know how those hurting hearts feel. But I do think God gave me a glimpse into the desire he has for his children to keep their eyes firmly set on the author and perfector of their faith. To rediscover the deep truth and reality of heaven being our home. To ponder whether we really see ourselves as citizens of heaven or of this world. After all, doesn’t Scripture say this is not our home?
Our Father breathed this truth into me on May 30, 2018.
That’s the day Steve took his first breath off of the ventilator.
That’s the day his sweet mom, our precious Mia, took her first breath in eternity 9 years ago.
The day she truly started to live a life that I can only imagine.
And the day God clearly said to my heart, “One day you will all experience the life she now knows, but this isn’t that time. I’m giving him back to you for a little while because I’m not finished with him yet. I’m doing a new work, can you not see it? Walk in it with passion, purpose and praise and know that death is not the end. It’s just the beginning.”
Thank you, Jesus.