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26 June, 2012

The Heavenly Cloud of Witnesses is Growing ….

Early Sunday morning as I was having my private worship time, Jeff popped his head in the room to tell me that our good friend, Marvin Mardock, was now in heaven.  Our first response?  “Oh, how happy for Marvin!  Wow…Sunday worship with Jesus!  What an amazing transformation…from coronary critical care to heaven!  Wow!  Oh, Marvin is feeling fine now!”

And then? Tears formed as we thought of no more notes of encouragement from Marvin.  Thoughts of his wife and family.  Thoughts of how much his is already missed.  Heavy sighs.  Drooped heads and spirits. 

Grief.  Settling in anew.  Ugh!

Less than an hour later Jeff pops his head in while I am getting ready for church.  “We just got an email in…Emmy Mugisha died suddenly.”  Our first reponse?  “WHAT???  He is a young Ugandan church leader.  He died?  He is our friend too?  He died?  The great cloud of witnesses is starting to feel like a big storm cloud!”

And then I blurted out, “Maybe Emmy and Marvin met near Heaven’s Gate!  Marvin had so many questions about Uganda and what the church and mission are doing there, last time we met.  Now Emmy can answer his questions, can give him a clear picture of what God is doing in Uganda.”

And then, upon further contemplation of entering Heaven, these thoughts spilled forth…

Marvin and Emmy will have lots of time to visit and worship together.  They won’t need cultural orientation in Heaven.  They are well experienced in Heavenly culture. They have been living within that culture while on earth for some time. They have had a heavenly perspective in their lives, their worship, and their witness.  They won’t need to go through orientation at all!

Well, that is not Scriptural, we know, but it fits where we are in our transition and in our grief.  We just don’t understand why.  We don’t have answers to our questions.  But we still ask them!  We pour our hearts out to God.  We cry and we pray. 

We shift the mantle of grief a bit so it doesn’t choke us.  We lift it all up to Jesus, and He touches us.  He gently sweeps us up in His arms and carries us.  He speaks peace to us, a peace only He can give.  He strengthens us as we relax into Him.  He calls us by name and whispers His love to us.  He reminds us that He is at work, He is not surprised by who enters Heaven when, and He is doing far more than we can see or understand. 

2 Corinthians 4:16–18 (The Message):
                So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

And so, we choose to keep on keeping on, living in His unfolding grace, expecting to see one day 
see what is now unseen, knowing that is what will last forever.  And we will spend forever in 
fellowship with Marvin and Emmy and a host of others, enjoying the lavish celebration prepared 
for us.    (Do you suppose Marvin or Emmy might get asked to set the table?)