YOU CAN’T SEE HEAVEN FROM HERE

May 7, 2016

It has been nine years since my husband and I lost our youngest child. Nine years and soon it will be ten. I remember thinking years ago, “I don’t know where he is.” The thought pierced through my brain over and over again reflective of the agony my soul was feeling. The pain and sorrow was so great that my mind was just fog, floating freely where my logical thoughts used to be. Hearing those words repeating in my head just added to my torment.

I knew in my heart that my son was saved. I knew the word said that to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord. I knew Craig had given his life to the Lord and yet, I could not see where he was. I could not see heaven from where I stood.

For a newly bereaved parent you can’t go through a day without wondering where your child is and what he is doing? If you are a believer you imagine your child happy and fulfilled, surrounded by the loving arms of the Lord. You can see it- in your imagination. Sometimes that is not good enough. Sometimes, you need assurance that what you imagine, what you believe, is true. You are placed at a point in your life when your faith is tested beyond breaking. Believe and stand by it or doubt and suffer from it.

It does not seem fair that when you are at your lowest point in your life, your faith is tested so greatly. You are weak, you can barely get up in the morning, you want to be with your child and for many parents, you want to die. How in the world are you going to face this test when you have no strength?

I kept telling myself, “He is fine, he is with the Lord and He is the happiest he has ever been.” It helped to repeat those words, but I still could not see Heaven from here. I needed to experience that with my five senses. I needed to know beyond a doubt. I needed the Lord to show me.

I am not alone in my feelings. I have meant many Christians that have experienced the same wonder, the same agony. It does not mean we are not strong Christians. It does not mean that our faith is less than it should be. It means we are suffering, we still love the Lord and still believe in His promises, and our faith is being tested beyond our wildest dreams. Many people will experience loss but few will truly know the sting of death and the victory. It is not a place that any parent wants to go. It is not a place you can ever imagine until you are there.

There comes a time when pain is so overwhelming that you can no longer feel. Imagine a physical pain in one part of your body. It overcomes your whole countenance. You struggle with the agony of the pain and don’t realize that in the midst of your pain, your other body parts are numb; they don’t exist because the pain is too intense to allow any affection for the rest of your body. This is how your spirit feels when it lies in agony. You don’t feel the sun on your cheek or a gentle hand on your shoulder. You can’t receive the words of encouragement from loved ones or the soft voice of God in your heart. Oh, He is there and so are you, but pain has taken over and all you can do is cry out, My God, My God Why hast thou forsaken me. I don’t say that with any disrespect toward my Lord. No one has ever suffered as greatly as Him. We can’t embrace His suffering but what we find in our lives is that it sometimes feels like abandonment, and we just can’t see Heaven from here.

 

(c) 2016


Lord–please send knee pads.

September 23, 2011

My mother-in-law was a true intercessor. It was not unusual to find her on her knees any time of the day. What she did not say on her knees, she said in her journals and in the margins of her bible. She had six children, all with different personalities, ages spreading out over 20 years. If the oldest wasn’t having problems you can bet there was at least one or two that were. Her goal as a mother was to see all of her children living a Christian life and that kept her on her knees. When my children were little their problems were smaller. I was very fortunate not to have any pressing health problems to deal with or disabilities. My two sons were healthy from the day they were born. As they grew, the challenges grew. The teen years brought conflict, temptation, and heavy metal music. The vigils of prayers began and I joined the ranks of many mothers before me, on their knees for their children. No longer was my prayer, “Oh Lord, keep my sons healthy and strong.” They became more direct, more precise. Thrown to the floor in a heaping mess of parental slobbering before the throne I would cry out. Ugh, the knees have become worn and calloused. Continuing to pray, every day, every night must certainly be a sign of belief or perseverance, you would think. For me, there is no where else to turn. If the power of prayer means nothing, then my life means nothing because it has been sewn into the fabric of my being.. Like most mothers I want life to run smoothly. Ok, maybe I will accept a jolt here or there but nothing too bad. I don’t want to deal with things that are too bad to handle and have to suffer like some people do. After all, I am a Christian and there should be some reward to that. My life should be covered enough in the Father’s love that it protects me from all the bad things I have prayed against. There are some that know that is not true. There are some that have suffered tremendous losses, over and over again. What do we say to that? Do we come up with some old response that leaves a person’s spirit on the floor like, “You do not have enough faith, or you have a sin that you must get rid of.” Bad things happen to Christians. It is the way things are. Evil strikes a family that is dedicated to the Lord, it scars a young man who just got baptized, and it destroys entire families in one sweep. It is not because they did something wrong. The Lord said that He can take the good out of any situation for those that love Him. (Romans 8:28) That is a hard thing to wait on when you are in so much pain. It is so hard to see when your tears cloud your vision. It is hard to have faith in when your prayers did not seem to act in your behalf. Yet, we continue to pray, we don’t give up because we know that God is still there and for some reason that maybe only He knows why, things happen, and we are left with just trusting Him. Our knees become callous, our hearts become heavy, but we still pray. It is our connection to the living God- it is our pipeline to life. Our joys, outweighed at times by tragedy can find us kneeling before the throne and pouring out our hearts. We can carry our burdens before us and leave them at His feet. The bible tells us to pray without ceasing and that the fervent prayer of a wise man avails much. (James 5:16) Prayer is powerful and though it may not always work out the way we want it to, or things happen that crush our spirit, the day comes when we see more clearly, and we hear His voice and feel His touch. We can no more give up prayer than the air we breathe. We are Christians and called by His name.

(C) 2013 Vickie VanAntwerp