Sunday, August 29, 2010

Week 8 - Death

I have avoided this week's study and put it off as long as possible. It forces me to consciously think about the day that Magdalena died. Just as Nancy begins the chapter with how she "feels the weight and trauma of it as if it were yesterday", I do too. January 13th is that day, and just its presence creeping up on my causes my heart to triple in weight. I remember holding onto her life, not wanting her to leave me, but also, I did not want her to suffer. Even now as I look back, I can see how God gave her and our family so much mercy by now allowing her to suffer when he brought her to be with Him. This eases my mind, but it doesn't make me miss her any less. Before Magdalena I am not sure how often I thought of death. I think that I associated it more with getting old and a natural part of life, but I can't say that I have ever feared it, and now, after losing Magdalena, fear has not crossed my mind. I know that it is not like that for all of you. "It is not what you know but who you know that calms the fear of the unknowns surrounding death." God sent us His Holy Spirit to reside in us to give us this peace (1 John 4:13-18). Every breath we take on this earth should be taken with the confidence that God has truly conquered death! By truly knowing Jesus you can have the confidence that this earth is really just our temporary home (Carrie Underwood's song is a great reminder.).
Small things in life can really cause me to choke up and think about Magdalena, and one of those is the song "I Can Only Imagine". I do think that the radios overplayed this song so much that people began to just sing the words instead of truly reflecting on what the song says. But there is no way possible for me to do that because just the mention of heaven and I think about what Magdalena might be doing at this very moment. As I listened to that song with tears in my eyes, I wondered how soon after arriving in heaven will God reunite me with her. Will he hand her to me so that we can praise Him together? By the time this thought crossed my mind as it does now I could feel the weight of her in my arms and smell her sweet scent again. So I would like to think for now that is what God would do.

Phillipians 1:20-24
as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.

I was glad for the story Nancy shared with us on page 61, and how after the death of his wife, Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse used the analogy of a shade for his children to understand their feelings. "Death is like that. It blocks the sunshine, but the sun is still shining." When I read this story I remembered holding Magdalena singing my song to her. "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You'll never know dear how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away." It was our private song because we knew that her hearing was not perfect, but by the way she responded we knew that she could hear tones. So we sang together. The shade and the skies being grey don't adequately describe the intensity of the pain associated with saying goodbye to someone you love. The weight of suffering the death of a loved one feels like you are under water when it is time to take that next breath. So many days my heart felt heavy and painful that I wondered if it would ever go away. But the sun is still shining, and I enjoy those days when God's word, His promises, and His faithfulness pushes away the shade and I can bask in his sunshine. This is where my Hope lies. That although my heart is heavy, God has not left me, but everyday he is there with new comfort to give. Sometimes this can be through certain passages in the bible while other days it can be through a little girl wearing a butterfly for Magdalena. He is there.

Isaiah 57:1-2
The righteous pass away; the godly often die before their time. And no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For the godly who die will rest in peace.

Revelation 21:1-7
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Let us pray that God will change our perspectives about life and death so that we can rest in His faithfulness and live wholeheartedly for Christ.

Nancy Guthrie, One Year of Hope

2 comments:

  1. I started doing this too, at my own pace though.. still working through week two and it's been 8 weeks... I find that whenever I just need *something* God finds a way to speak to me through this "study." This book is great. I had seen that you were doing a weekly study, but didn't connect it to One Year of Hope until now! I'm kind of excited to learn I'm not doing it alone.

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  2. Annie, You can work through it at your own pace, and if you look at the top of the blog where it says "One year of Hope", and click on it. It includes all weeks to the study. So whether you are on the same week or not. We can be working through it together.

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