Death

An Eternal Perspective in Birth & Death

[Note: I started writing an introductory paragraph for a post on Spinning Babies & Hypnobabies as I prepare for the birth of our little boy but then I got completely derailed by my own thought processes and taken on a sobering mini-journey reminding me of life, death & HOPE in GOD.] 

I can’t believe that this Sunday will be the start of my 7th month of baby-growing! Wasn’t it just Christmas time when we were sharing the news with our family & friends?

You grow up and people tell you to “enjoy the journey because it’ll go by so fast”. They talk about how you’ll blink and next thing you know your babies are getting married and having their own but that notion, that time would go by so quickly, seems so distant when you’re young with your “whole life ahead of you”. But then we talk about death and the brevity of life, how we’re strangers in this land, sojourners, just like all of the generations before us (1 Chronicles 29:15). Our life is just a shadow, a vapor that disappears as quickly as it came and we’re left cherishing the moments that remain. Because who knows, maybe you’ll die tomorrow. Maybe your whole life isn’t ahead of you.

There’s no guarantee that I’ll live to see my little baby boy grow up, that I’ll celebrate my 40th wedding anniversary or that I’ll even make it to dinner tonight. Every moment that we have really is a gift that God has allowed us to experience. Sure, we hope that our children outlive us and that we’ll die peacefully after 50-something years of marriage, holding the hand of our spouse but that isn’t always the case. Too often people are taken from this earth “too early” and suddenly, leaving us standing there seemingly unprepared and shocked.

But don’t you remember? We’re just sojourners passing through. This life isn’t our home. You dont know what what tomorrow holds. Your life is just a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

So we count the days and plan ahead with hope and surrender. Let this realization cause us not to cling to the things of this life too tightly lest we build up idols that crumble and disappoint. This truth should ignite a child-like trust that is dependent on our Maker for every moment, every need, every next step as we plan and anticipate our days here.

I’ve been reminded of this truth my whole pregnancy as I fight the anxious thoughts of pregnancy complications (my mind runs wild), as we dream as a family and wait for God’s provision and direction in this season. For those that trust in Jesus to pay their debts and cover all of their inadequacies that disqualify them from living eternally, life AND death are beautiful things. We struggle here now for just a little while with heartache and disappointment but we look with hope to enter into our real life in a real city whose builder and maker is God.

So even in the joy of feeling my baby move, seeing prayers answered and planning ahead for a gloriously bright future, I remind my heart that this joy is just a whisper of what’s to come for the people who belong to Jesus when we will live where there is FULLNESS of joy and pleasures forevermore. Imagine that!

Oh, that my joy in this (temporary) season of anticipation and desire for my little baby wouldn’t outweigh my joy in God and my desire for Him alone.

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Bittersweet from Coast to Coast

“Winter” in LA looks much different than Minnesota where everything seems to be shades of black and white.


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In the early hours of Thanksgiving morning we got a call that our niece, Danika, had been rushed to the hospital and was fighting for her life. During the week we stood by, getting updates from the family, praying and waiting.

 

My Dad was so generous to fly Eric out during that week so he could be with the family during the fight. However, a couple of days later, I was on my way out to LA as well…

 

Danika had a special way of bringing so many people together. People from all over the world flew in to be with the family and honor her life and now, her memory.

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After the UFC fight ended so suddenly we watched previously recorded Skype calls with Danika in them.


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Family toasting to the gift of Danika’s life.

It was really so incredible to watch a group of people who so strongly believed and trusted in the sovereignty of God, grieve the loss of the one they love. There was absolutely heartache, moments of anger and unbelief but what I mostly remember was a joyful confidence that God is always GOOD and He WILL be glorified.

I’ve suffered poorly before in my life when I failed to trust in the sovereignty of God or His goodness. Without trusting that His will is one that no man can thwart, I was left to snowball all of the questions; the “what ifs…”, the “but if I just…”, or probably the most difficult to understand at the time, “WHY?“.

Unable to answer these questions left me fearful and regretful not confident and hopeful. Trials came, suffering took place in my heart and in the midst of the storm I had forgotten to trust that the One who made me wrote all of my days in a book before I was ever born. He bound the pages of my life together with His goodness and sealed them with a confident declaration that not one page would fall out, apart from His will. I had forgotten that if He could hold and measure the waters in the palm of His hand, then He could surely hold everything in my tiny little life together according to His perfect plan that He had from the beginning.

Danika’s life and her “sudden” death has further impressed upon me the brevity of life. I’m reminded that we aren’t ever guaranteed another day with the ones we love. Her life was a gift for as little or as much time that the Lord had predestined.

Writing this I’m reminded of the Connecticut tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I think of all the little ones who were unjustly caught in the fire of one man and his anger. I think of the parents who got their kids ready for school that morning, thinking that this was just another Friday. I imagine they had plans for a pizza-movie night or building gingerbread houses; a Christmas tradition they’ve had with their little one for the last three years.

Everything can change in a moment. 

In October at our wedding I joyfully talked about how “one night can change your life”.
In December, as we buried our niece, I realized how true and sobering that phrase could be.

Still, as the white horse coach pulled her casket up to the gravesite and as we flooded the area with flowers, lowering her body into the ground, knowing the tension of hope and grief, our song resounded with truth;

“Great is Thy Faithfulness…All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!”.


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