“Sometimes we need the salt of tears to remind us how to savor the sweetness of life.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst
I have a dear fellow-believer friend that is dying. We went out to lunch together on a typical, nothing-out-of-the-ordinary Friday recently and he let me know that he would be finding out soon whether or not the treatment for his cancer was working. A couple of days later, on a very (all of a sudden) untypical Tuesday, he let me know that he had heard from his doctor that the treatments were futile, and he has less than a year to live. Time was almost up. As I took this new information in, and what it meant, time stood hauntingly still.
I deeply enjoy each moment I get to spend with this very special person. Mike has been a rock in my life of wisdom, integrity, humor, and true friendship. They say rocks last forever, but some, like my dear friend, get sent down the river much too soon. My heart aches hard typing this out. It is making it all a little too real and much too final.
On our latest lunch outing, he thanked me for being his friend. He thanked me for helping strengthen his faith in Christ. He reminded me and reassured me that He was ready when the time came to go to the One that made the way to Heaven for us all. And then his next words to me are ones that will roll around in my heart forever: "It's kind of crazy, I am actually excited and sad at the same time."
This unravels me in all sorts of ways. The salty tears well up. As a believer in Christ, I understand the excitement. I know that God has prepared a place of complete perfection and love for His children. He tells us plainly in His Word of unbroken promises:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:1-3 NIV)
My tears fall yet get caught in God's hands where they are treasured and kept safe. Oh, how our Lord holds us closest in our most desperate hour.
My friend is thankful to be checking out of the world's dark, seedy motel and be taken to spend eternity in a body that never hurts and live in the most lavishly beautiful accommodations truly unimaginable. But, at the very same time, as a blood, guts and tears person with family and friends and nice home down here, I also understand fully that he is sorrowful too. A life and death mystery full of juxtaposition.
It is impossible to really know the damp corners of this place until we know our own time is almost up. It is now, even for me, one normally full of conversation and easy banter that I am left speechless because...
"There are moments that the words don't reach, there's a grace too powerful to name, we push away what we can never understand, we push away the unimaginable." ("It's Quiet Uptown", Hamilton)
I love this quote, but I must respectfully disagree. Grace does have a name, and it is Jesus. And those that know Him do understand that His love, mercy and grace knows no bounds and it reaches us in all things. Even death. He overcame it completely and offers eternal life to all that believe. Amazing, powerful Grace indeed.
I had another dear Christian friend, Gwen, die of cancer over the summer and heard something very similar in one of our treasured conversations, she said: "It is strange because I know everything will be wonderful in my eternal home, but at the same time, you are never really ready to leave this one." True words.
It is in these savored-time moments with those we love deeply that we must wrestle with faith's most profound and much-needed promises. They lift us in our despair to a place of hope that nothing else can. We hold them up to the light and beg the question: "Are they really TRUE?" It is the squealing tires on belief's graveled road where we speed the car up only to hit the brakes at the last minute, suddenly not sure of anything at all. What we all want to know on our deepest-soul level is: "Lord, can we trust You completely, even in this, the very darkest of things?"
I slow my mind's car down. Get out and kneel down. I pause in the unrelenting pressing and hear Him answer me clearer than ever: "Yes beloved one, yes. You can."
I do not know how much time is left for me and my friend, but I know this: Time is to be spent savored whether we know it is shortened or not. We must make the time, take the time, and...
S A V O R t h e T I M E...with those we love, because we are not given the ETA of the last sand of life's hourglass.
This life really is always too short whether we have a day or a hundred years here. But we can spend its' moments well, if only we choose to savor them slowly, and not waste a precious drop. I will remember this. And I will never forget: Mike, Gwen, or the many others in this life, when the moments are spent.
Thank You Lord for preparing a place, a way, and a reunion for us all one day. Amen.
Question: Who is on your heart as you read this today? Who will you choose to spend more priceless time with?