Hope

“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep. . .that have taken hold.”

- J.R.R. Tolkien

Where are the words? How does one express the experience of such tragedy? Oh, where are the words?

This is not a normal blog post.

How does one write about death? I love writing, but how can I write at such a time as this? I have lost my mother. She was one of my biggest cheerleaders, always encouraging me. She loved to watch me live out (or write out) my passion. So how can I write when every word reminds me of my loss–of the empty hole in my heart?

But how can I not write? God has been so good to me!

“I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.”

- Habakkuk 3:18-19

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?”

- Psalm 27:1

I plan to write about the accident, in the future, but I think most people understand what happened. It is a very hard task to put into writing such an experience. How does one describe the feeling of waking up totally confused–having nothing make sense. Everything feels, sounds, and smells real yet the situation is very foreign. How can I tell you what it is like to see your precious mother unconscious and moaning, with blood in her hair? Is it possible to write out such an experience when it brings so much pain?

Yes, because God’s grace is sufficient for me, no matter what the situation is.

So, someday I plan to write it all out–to relive the pain of that day and week so that I can process it apart from the shock. Until then, I would love to write about what gives me hope, because in the end that is what is important.

I would assume that when watching our family (or any Christian family in a similar situation) people could either conclude that we are a very emotionally strong, or a very emotionally cold family.

We are neither.

Our mother just died, the thought alone used to give me nightmares as a child. The strength that you may see in us comes directly from the Spirit of Jesus Christ living in us. There is pain, there is heartache at such times as this, but because of Christ, there is also an awesome peace. I guess it is that grace of His that we talk about.

No, there is nothing special about the Witmer family. The same grace can and will be given to all “who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and believe in their heart that God hath raised Him from the dead.”

Along with the peace of Jesus, comes the Hope of Glory.

Ever since I heard that Mom died, Heaven became extremely close to me. (Do not be fooled, not everyone who experiences grief “feels” this way. Everyone is on a separate journey.) The book of Revelation has come alive like never before. I have always written off Revelation as an end-of-times book (which it really is). To be honest, I was often turned off by Revelation because most of the time when people talk about the book it leaves a sour “taste” in my mind. Now I wonder if it was not written more to give a glorious glimpse into the Heavenlies. Imagine that. Was it not written for our hope? Don’t let me start ranting about prophecy. . .

The pictures of Heaven that the Bible describes (especially Revelation) is what keeps me from “mourning as the world mourns.” In fact, it almost makes me excited for Mom, not sad.

Sometime, read Revelation as comprehensively, yet as fast as you can; and forget the prophetic interpretation, just read the words. Picture it in your mind, act it out, write it down, draw it out–do whatever you need to in order to grasp what John is desperately trying to describe.

When you understand Scripture in its purity and lose the “religious baggage” that so often accompanies it, the words become simple and alive–and relevant. Truth connects with the heart.

When describing the surroundings of  the Great White Throne of God, John paints an awesome picture:

The Holy One, the Beginning and the End through whom everything exists, sitting on the throne is described in terms of beautiful stones, and around the throne is an emerald looking rainbow. (Mom loved rainbows.)

Colorful, precious, and promising Beauty.

All around the throne sit twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments and golden crowns, each on a throne. From the throne comes flashes of lightning and sounds of thunder and before the throne is a sea of crystal clear glass.

Honored, majestic, wealthy, and noisy Power.

But the most awesome thing of all is the four strange beasts. One like a lion, one like a calf, one with a manlike face, and one like a flying eagle–each with six wings. All of them completely covered with eyes. Strange much? Very.

They surround the throne and never ever cease from saying (probably as loud as they can):

“HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is the Lord God the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come!”

When these beasts do this, the twenty-four elders fall down before the Holy One, casting their crowns before His throne saying (probably also very loudly):

“Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.”

I am not a Bible scholar, but if this is what God’s throne room looks like, even now–if this is where Mom is–if this is what I am made for–than I can be filled with much hope.

Later, John talks about Jesus having a vast army all dressed in white. I cannot shake the picture of Mom beautifully dressed in white worshiping the Almighty, the High One, Who is so holy that lightning flashes and thunder resonates from His throne; so awesome that even strange beasts are obsessed with worshiping Him “day and night.”

If Mom is experiencing the presence and love of such an awesome God, how can I mourn for her?

In chapter 21 of Revelation, John describes New Jerusalem, the “bride of the Lamb.” He tells about how there is a new heaven and a new earth and how Jerusalem was coming down from the a fore described throne as a bride adorned for her husband (Jesus). He says Jerusalem came down out of heaven “having the glory of God.”

[Am I that sort of bride to Christ? By His grace, I will be adorned with the glory of God.]

As Jerusalem descends, a great voice from the throne says,

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away ever tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

Amazing is it not? The Holy God who receives all the praises from the universe (see Psalm 69:34) wants to live among man? The Holy Almighty will wipe away my tears? Death, sadness, pain, and crying will no longer be in existence? If this is true, how can earth have hold on me any longer?

I want to know this God! I want to love this God! I want to serve this God! He is so huge, He does not need me, but He says that He’s preparing a place for me.

In light of all this, how can I not have peace? How can I not have joy? Why would I ever go back to the simple ways of the world? When the God that is described in Revelation is trying to make contact with me and have fellowship with me, why would I ever return to the shallow food my flesh offers me?

Yet I do. I still do.

“God forgive me. Forgive me for my temporal mindset. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on You–on eternity.”

This is what feeds my joy. This is what brings pleasure. There is only one way to make things grow, and that is to feed them. If you want the things of Jesus (His peace, joy, and comfort) to grow in your life, than you have got to feed on Jesus. He died so that you may have life. The Almighty who sits on the throne, which radiates lightning and thunder, died for your soul. Will you take that for granted?

“Thank you God for life, for salvation, for your love. Thank you for death and the eternal glorification it brings. Thank you for your holy self and your holy son. May we know you better. Thank you for dying for our sins, give us faith to believe. Keep us from distractions. And thank you God, for teaching us through the normal life and surprising death of Mom, Rachel Hope Witmer.

C.D.