Saturday, April 9, 2011

Happy Heaven Day.

I know I haven't posted much (okay, not at all) in the last months.  It's not for lack of words or motivation, it's... well, trutfully, it's because I've been using up my words in otherplaces, before I make it here to write.  This post is two years old now, but I want to bring it back... for a special anniversary.

Original Post - April 9, 2009
This post is one that I feel ill equipped to write. It needs to be written - deserves to be. But I don't think I'm in a position to actually write it the way it should be written. It's something I don't know anything about. It's something I've never experienced. And yet... I do know something about it. I have experienced it. Or rather, something like it.

You see, today is special. It is special to a mother and a father. It is special to sisters. It is special to an aunt and an uncle. Two cousins. Countless others I've never even heard of. And it is special to me.

Today is an anniversary. Not the sort of anniversary that is usually associated with happiness, balloons, cakes, or cards. Not the sort that everyone dreams of one day "celebrating." You see, this is an anniversary of sorrow. On this day, too many and yet not enough years ago, an earthly life was ended.

It was unexpected. I have been to the place of unexpected death. I have felt the very breath I need to live knocked out of me. I have felt so shocked, so... unprepared. I have whispered into the darkness, "It wasn't supposed to be this way." I have forgotten, upon awakening, that my lived one was no longer "with us." And I have been crushed all over again when I remembered the truth.

It was tragic. This was not a gentle death at the end of a long life. It was fast. It was violent. IT was traumatic. It was unfair. Many would say it shouldn't have happened. I have been there. I have listened as my grandfather whispered from his hospital bed, "this never should have happened." I have felt the sting of unfairness. I have known death that wasn't just a fact of life, death that was the result of tragedy. A single terrible event, which stilled the beating of a beautiful heart.

It was deliberate. This is the part that really gets me. It's one thing to keep living in the wake of an accident. Something that we had no control over. But in this case... there was no accident. There was nobody left on earth to blame. This deliberate, tragic, unexpected death - suicide - leaves nobody behind to take the blame. Yes, this particular suicide left a mother behind, believing that if her faith had been just a little stronger, she'd still have her son. It left a scared young girl who tearfully named her firstborn son after her brother. It left a particular twinkle in the eyes of children, a twinkle that reminds his loved ones that he was here. And it left, truly, nobody to blame. But it was deliberate.

To that end - he is not to blame, either. Not really. Yes, he made the choice. He took the actions that took a life - his own life. But he had help. A demon, perhaps several, whispering to him. Convincing him that if he just ended things, all would be well. Striving to keep him from living, from doing what God had planned for him. I have heard those voices. Felt compelled to obey them. I am ashamed to say, I even tried to listen to them. I failed - and I am thankful. He did not fail. I wish he had. But he didn't. I've heard people say that suicide leads inevitably and instantly to an eternity in Hell. I don't see this in my Bible. I see that there is nothing - neither life NOR death, nor height nor depth, nor anything in all creation (see Romans 8) can separated us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. I see that salvation can't be earned, nor can it be accidentally "lost." Given up, walked away from, and declined, but not lost. And I believe that the young man I am writing about is in heaven. I believe that this act, this decision, was not a choice to turn his back on God. I believe it was a lost battle with temptation. We've all lost battles with temptation. We've all sinned. The difference here? There are so many left here trying to sort the results of this sin out. I believe that this young man's parents, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends... family... classmates... they can see him again. And I... well, I will meet him for the first time.

You see, I never knew this young man. At least not while he was here. I feel like maybe I know him a little, now. Now that he has changed my life. Permanently. His death shook so many. But they kept living. In their sorrow, they looked around. They saw me. For whatever reason, they took compassion on me. They took me with them to church. They, in many ways, made me a part of their family. And in knowing them over the last seven years, I feel like I have gotten to know this young man. I am thankful to him. I am grateful that he lived. And I look forward to meeting him.

Today is not about me though. It is about them - his family. His friends. So, today, I want to say this to them:
I remember. I am glad he lived. Glad he was loved. I won't say who I am writing about... but those of you who knew this young man, know who you are. You don't need a reminder of what happened on this day years ago. You don't need me to say he is missed, and you don't need me to remind you of the pain. But one thing you do need... is for me to remember. For me to say, "It matters to me. I won't forget. I know it hurts. And because I love you, on this day, I hurt with you."

I remember. It matters. I won't forget. I know it hurts. I love you. And I hurt with you.

And on this day, I celebrate. Will you celebrate with me? Will you celebrate the fact that this one life has touched so many? The fact that even cut off prematurely, his presence on this earth made an impact that we can't begin to fathom? Will you celebrate the fact that on this day, years ago, a young man shook off the chains of this life and stepped into his eternity? But most of all, will you celebrate the truth? The truth that like us, he was a sinner SAVED BY GRACE. The truth that not even death can separate him from his God? Because that is something to celebrate. Even in the midst of tears and sorrow.

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