~ Anniversary post honoring our sons & daughters gone too soon ~
Warm sunshine beckons. It’s long, shadowy fingers draw me back to a piece of ground we consider our own. The trees are bursting with buds in all shades of pink, heralding spring’s arrival. It’s time to play outside. It’s also time to put flowers on my son’s grave once more, reminding me that I still have this small task I can do in his honor.
I’m no different from you, dear reader, if you, too, are outliving a child, especially to suicide, which we know adds another painful dimension to our grief. We know the difficulty of carrying on. Some may never set foot in the cemetery where their child is buried. Others may keep their loved one’s remains close by or do other special things to create important memories going forward. Setting out flowers during the warm months centers me, reminding me that life is moving forward. But there is something coming, and I can hardly wait for it to get here!
I am expecting the granddaddy of all reunions ~ the great Grand Reunion in the sky! I have read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 over and over, comparing various versions and allowing the words to sink deeply into my being. They warm my spirit and fill me with hope and longing. Let’s read them together, allowing the energy to capture our imagination and charge our batteries for what is to come:
“On that day, with a command that thunders into the world, with a voice of a chief heavenly messenger, and with a blast of God’s trumpet, the Lord Himself will descend from heaven; and all those who died in the Anointed One, our Liberating King, will rise from the dead first. Then we who are alive and left behind will be snatched up together with them into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. This is how we, the resurrected and the living, will be with Him forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 VOICE).
I don’t know about you, but for me, this is very good news! I can only imagine!
It’s okay if you believe differently. Your comments are welcomed so that all readers can be encouraged by our individual pictures of this Grand Reunion. Much of what I have pictured in my mind comes from the above two verses and ignites my imagination. Of course, as a feeble human, I have nothing of such grand scale for comparison. But it helps me visualize this awesome event and long for it . . . to long for it with greater intensity than any planned vacation. I can only imagine!
Please allow me freedom to express that I believe my son is in a deep sleep, referred to as the sleep of death (Psalm 76:5). He is unaware of anything going on above ground (Ecclesiastes 9:5). He doesn’t know who’s President, how the stock market is doing, or who won the Masters this year in his favorite sport. He has no thought or memory (Psalm 146:4). Once he drew his final breath ~ borrowed from the Life Giver ~ he returned to dust. This is the exact reversal of the creation process: God formed man from the dust of the earth, He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and Adam became the first living being (Genesis 2:7).
It astounds me to realize that I have been on this journey almost ten years now. I actually didn’t think I could survive a week after my boy died. Many of you are new to your grief journey, and your hearts are raw, fragile, and heavy. I know your pain, and I am so sorry for your suffering. It’s hard to keep moving forward. I know. My desire is for this piece to provide hope, encouragement, and be a reminder that time does pass. With all the mayhem occurring in the world today I think we don’t have much longer to wait. Any day now Jesus could return. I can only imagine!
Should He delay, perhaps I will go to my rest, but if not, I can tell you what I will do: I will drive about two miles down the road, make a left turn into the cemetery, follow the winding road back to a line of trees, and arrive where my son is buried. Maybe I will pitch a tent nearby, camping out in anticipation. If the heavens start to rumble, and the air becomes supercharged with energy, it’s time for me to dash to my son’s spot. I can only imagine!
Will this be a quiet event? Absolutely not! There will be shouts and thunder and trumpet blasts in the skies. The pandemonium undoubtedly will reverberate around the world, since every eye will see Him come (Revelation 1:7). And not only that, for the first time ever, cemeteries will be the grandest, happiest, busiest, noisiest places on earth. Families like ours will gather in eager anticipation. My heart will be pounding out of my chest as we wait in breathless excitement for our precious son and brother to pop up out of the ground. In fact, his dad had better take a step or two back from where he is standing (in the picture above), for our boy could shoot out of the ground like a ball out of a cannon! Or, maybe “Gabe,” his guardian angel who was by his side all of his life, will give us a huge grin before he reaches down into the ground, grabs Greg by the hand, and pulls him up out of there! I can only imagine!
Whether I get my first hug on the ground or in the air does not matter. I can hardly wait! As our feet leave the ground, we will keep our eyes fixed on the sky, which will grow brighter and brighter as Jesus Christ, crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords, surrounded by billions of heavenly angels, draws closer and closer. The colors, the strains of beautiful music, and the angels singing in the skies, will be unlike anything I have ever seen or heard. Can I absorb it all? Can my eyes and ears take it all in? My heart will be full to bursting with my arms clasped tightly around those I love and have missed for so long. I can only imagine!
I close my eyes and try to picture what it will be like. Whenever I become discouraged and think this reunion is taking too long to arrive, I hit “start” and replay my reunion “video” over and over in my mind to encourage me to hold on. The great Grand Reunion is coming! I can only imagine!
That is what the Scripture means when it says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT
“And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18 MSG
I can only imagine!