Thursday, March 30, 2017

To Whom Shall We Go?

"So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  (2 Corinthians 4:18)


My son held it out to show me as he was heading to school yesterday morning. 
Still in the fog of losing a friend to a fast and brutal battle with cancer, my senior held out a patch given to him this week. It read, "NOAH LIVES"

"Do you believe that, Z?  That Noah really lives?"

"I do." he said.  

"Then that changes everything about how you walk forward through this grief."

All of the future planning and joyous yearnings for "what's next" that accompany senior year of high school halted in December when a fellow senior was diagnosed with incurable cancer and given only a short time to live.  Suddenly it was okay if time stood still on all of their future plans. It became hard to look too far ahead when that too far ahead might outlive a friend. But time never stands still and the short days of winter turned to blossoming days of spring and the senior class and our school faced a loss last week that I'm not sure anyone was prepared to handle. 

"What good can come from this?"  In his anger, his frustration that God didn't heal on this earth, his grief, my son asked that.  "What good?" I fumbled around. Gave some answers of the good I'd already seen.  I offered some verses of hope straight from God's word...verses I know he's memorized...I could tell he had long tuned me out. He really didn't want me to answer. Sometimes I don't recognize moments when I should just BE QUIET. 

A friend texted, "The truth is, we live in a deeply fractured world, and we don't always have a choice about being broken. But we do have a choice about where we let our brokenness lead us..." (Different by Sally and Nathan Clarkson).   

Questions. Fears. Doubts. Anger. Confusion.  Hope?
Yes, hope.
My son, his senior class, our entire school, and much of our community are grieving the death of this young man as we come face to face with our own theology on suffering and death.     
All sorts of thoughts and emotions. 
Hard questions being asked...
Maybe more unsettling are the hard questions not being asked...the unspoken...
The unspoken thoughts left to their own wandering can lead to some very dark places. 
Where will this brokenness lead us?
I'm trying to carefully urge my son forward to ask the hard questions (with your Bible open), feel this pain (but please receive the comfort of people around you), do not ignore the doubts (God is much bigger than any of those), cry while you walk if you have to (or cry while you sit), be still (physically and mentally still), go for a run (but take your phone and you better answer it if I call you), talk with your friends (but focus on TRUTH), speak with our pastor (he's a wise one to guide), listen to Noah's favorite song and remember him (laugh at some of those ridiculous memories) and even wrestle with the Lord if you must...
Do all of this at the foot of the cross because that is the only place you will find any peace.

"On hearing it, many of his disciples said, 'This is hard teaching. Who can accept it?'...From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed Him."  In John 6, Jesus teaches some hard things that caused many of the disciples to turn their backs and walk away.  

Hard teaching.
Too hard for some of the disciples to understand and too difficult for some to accept, so they turned and walked away. 
It just was too much. 

Jesus asked the Twelve, "You do not want to leave too, do you?"

Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."  (John 6:68) 

That's where I pray this grief takes these young students...takes all of us... 
Wrestle. Ask questions. Take your thoughts before the Lord.
Ask Him for belief as doubts surface.
But do not harden your heart to His voice right now. 
Where will you go if you don't go to the Lord?  Who else holds the answer to eternal life?
It may be hard and incredibly painful, we might not understand, and the good might seem difficult to find, but where else can we go, Lord?  You have the words to eternal life.
There's no other safe place to fall if not at the feet of the one who holds all the answers.
There are no answers apart from Him.   

Do not turn your back and wrestle on your own. There's will be no peace in human reasoning. 
Do not cast aside God's word.  There will be no hope without it. 
Do not harden your hearts.  There will be beauty from ashes for those who soften their hearts to grow through this.   

Where will this brokenness lead us?

"So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  (2 Corinthians 4:18)

We grieve with hope.   
Noah's funeral---the witness of his life and his amazing family---gave testimony to a choice to follow Christ and secure his eternity in the presence of our Heavenly Father. Those who knew him best gave testimony to his faith.  So, we say with confidence that Noah lives. 

That changes EVERYTHING about how you walk forward in grief.

Praise be to the Lord who holds the words to eternal life!! 

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