For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
It was on a night like this three years ago that my mother died. Soft, heavy snow fell steadily, drowning sound and creating a stark, eerily beautiful landscape, every branch bearing its weightless load.
We had known it was coming, and were thankful to be prepared, as ready as one can ever be to become an orphan. She was so ready to go home, and her saviour’s name was almost the last word on her lips.
God knows that death is too much for us, that we are made for eternity; that change and bereavement cause us to stagger, losing our bearings and succumbing to fear. Death is the ultimate insult to God’s creation of humanity in his image, the great scar which resulted from sin entering our hearts and breaking our fellowship with Him. It was never meant to be this way, and I take great comfort in knowing that my anger and grief in the face of death are a small reflection of God’s anger against this corruption of his perfect creation.
But I have learnt things through the deaths of my parents which would otherwise have remained merely theoretical. I have come to understand and rely on the Father heart of God for me, his beloved daughter; to trust in and take comfort from the Mother heart of God as I am cherished, and always understood. Perhaps it is only when precious things pass away that we learn to seek their essence in God – all the goodness and beauty of this world is a mere shadow of the truth and glory which are in Him.
It is a lesson which I need to keep learning. As my children have grown and become more independent, I am not ‘needed’ in the same way, and that role – which was so big that it became almost my entire life – is gone. I must not look to that relationship as my security and source of satisfaction in life. Nor should I depend on my status as ‘wife’, since that relationship too must someday come to an end. No, the only constant is that God, the creator and sustainer of life has chosen to reveal Himself to me, to make me his child, and to call me home to share in the glorious future planned for His people in the new creation.
It is His constancy which is my only security, everything else will pass away.
It is His arms which must be my refuge, since there are ultimately no other safe places.
It is His grace which is my only hope, since my own efforts and all the approval of others cannot make me worthy to belong in His kingdom.
It is in His beauty that I find the source of the glory which I only glimpse in the colours, seasons, sights and sensations of this amazing world. They dazzle me; how shall I bear being in the presence of the One and only, the great original?!
It is in His love that I find all my human loves purified, transformed and made perfect, so that I am finally at rest and fully myself.
May we be given daily grace to grow in dependence on Him, and to hold this world and all its riches with an open hand and yielding heart. For “our citizenship is in heaven. and we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to being everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body!” (Philippians 3.20&21)