Questioning Heaven

We just got home from another funeral.

The third for our family since September. Compounded by the loss our own community of Mt. Pulaski has experienced this year as well.

I’ve hesitated to write about any of it, to comment on any of it – how can I? How do you fit the spectrum of emotion and thought that circles death and loss into a blog post? I don’t think you can.

Heaven feels very far away, and a lifetime seems long to be separated from our loved ones. Different religions, denominations, professors and preachers give you varying pictures of what to expect. My favorite of those being C.S. Lewis – of course. His allegory The Great Divorce is the picture of Heaven, the idea of what’s to come that I love the most. It’s just a story, a fictional, made-up story about the place where we’re going in the end. Lewis is talented and witty and you should order this book off of Amazon immediately, but the most lasting thought I have from his work is how limited my imagination is when it comes to life after death. I don’t truly have a solid grasp on it.

So it’s safer to wish my loved ones back here instead, the devil you know and such. Over these last few months that’s spiraled into a paralyzing fear that my husband or my sister or my father-in-law is next. That they will slip out of my grasp – and so I hold them tighter than I should.

Fear of loss is confusing as a believer. I know there are church answers that we’ve memorized about peace and grief that I should insert here – but really: this is so topsy turvy.

Why should I be afraid of losing them? Why should I duct tape them down to this world if I believe the next one to be better?

For me and my heart, it comes down to trust. Do I trust that Heaven is really Heaven? Do I trust that God will be enough in this life should I lose my husband, my sister and my father-in-law?

Faith like that takes strength training. The rote lifting of weight over and over again, the breaking down of muscle so that it will heal stronger than before. All that to say: Jesus and I are working on it.

One thing that has brought me peace through this season of death and grief is the one thing about Heaven I am absolutely sure of.

We are going to sing.

We are going to sing together – all together – as one Bride.

There will be no more grief, no more loss, no more pain, no more confusion or struggle.

We will be together in a wide open place with the ones we love, singing praise to the One we all love more than anything.

Seriously, let that soak into your soul.

Next time you’re at church, next time you’re alone in your car on the way to Walmart or doing the dishes after everyone has gone to bed – choose a song and sing it. Be still for a moment and consider what it will be like to have everyone you love together, whole and well and free of worry. Imagine the atmosphere of joy at last, of perfect peace and the relief of finally arriving home  – together.

Mother’s Day is hard for my mom since my grandma passed away seventeen years ago. This past May, before I’d attended a single funeral, we were singing on Mother’s Day together and this thought washed over me. I leaned over and whispered to my mom, “We will sing this with her someday.”

I believe that. Despite all the questions that come with the process of grief and the pain of loss, despite the doubt and the confusion and the frustration we experience here – someday we’re going to sing together again.

Remember this when you’re saying goodbye to your Mexican missionary, when your husband leaves for a weekend trip, when you’re burying your father. No pain that this world can produce is final.

Someday, we will sing together again.

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