Archive for June, 2008

27
Jun
08

Though I Walk Through the Valley

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,for you are with me; your rod and your staff,they comfort me. -Psalm 23:4

A little while ago I got an email from an old friend who was talking about how much death there was around her.  I pondered that for a moment, since I have really had very little death to deal with for a long time.  A new friend at church lost his father a couple of months ago, but for the most part, but I don’t really know him that well, and I certainly knew nothing of his father.  In our marriage, the only deaths Kim and I have had to deal with were her Grandfather in 2001, plus our two miscarriages (2001, 2007).  Other than that, it’s really been pretty easy to avoid the whole death topic as anything more than abstract.

That isn’t possible these days.  Sandy Baudier, a friend and neighbor of Kim’s parents for decades is dying.  She isn’t expected to last the night.  it’s very strange to be writing about something like this, knowing that the person you are writing about – a real living person who has laughed and cried and loved and suffered in this real world for a long time – could be breathing her last at this very minute.

At the same time, I consider our friend Bill Adair.  Bill is suffering with ALS (Lou Gherig’s Disease) and it has finally atrophied the muscles in his neck: he can no longer swallow.  Today the doctors inserted a feeding tube.  What an incredibly tough call for Jan, but honestly I cannot imagine any other decision.  How could you even stand to sit down and eat knowing that, at your decision, your spouse is starving to death in the next room?  The thought of the whole situation is almost more than I can bear.  There are a lot of awful diseases out there like Alzheimers and cancer, but I wonder if any disease is more cruel than ALS.  At some point in the fairly near future, God is going to take this disease away from Bill.  I don’t know if that will be through a miraculous healing or by clothing him with immortality in the presence of God.  Bill still talks about wanting to take his grandchildren fishing when God heals him.  I don’t know if there will be fishing in Heaven, but I certainly pray that God will bring his grandchildren safely home as well – that on the New Earth, Bill will be able to enjoy all of the things with his grandkids that he thinks he is missing now.

I think Paul had a really important observation about all of this when he reminded the Thessalonians that we do not grieve like the world, who have no hope.

Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God wil bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. -I Thessalonians 4:14

I think of Sandy and Bill and I cannot help but think of this verse.  It will be very sad to be in a world where they are not.  Yet that is not the end of hope!  There is a great reunion yet to happen.  I think of how good it is to see old friends:  people I used to laugh and cry with, but have not seen in such a long time, and yet only a few minutes later its as if we were never apart.  What a joyful day that will be.  What hope we can have for those who die in Christ, knowing that they are enjoying that hour, both with their brothers and sisters of faith, and in seeing the face of the Lord they love.  And while we grieve at the funeral for our loss, we also have the hope that our friend will be there – waiting for us – along with all of the other faithful departed.

For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore, encourage one another with these words. – I Thessalonians 4:16-18

Death is not supposed to feel normal.  In our heart of hearts, we know that it is wrong, that it is foreign to us.  This is not the way things were supposed to be.  And we can see that this is true when we read Genesis 1-3.  Death was not here at the beginning, and it will not be here in the end.  We mourn Sandy Baudier now, and probably Bill Adair soon, but at the same time, we rejoice – even though we can see only in part now.  And the thought of the rejoicing that we will know in the presence of God and in the company of the saints is too much for a mind to consider.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow meall the days of my life,and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6