If you follow this blog, you are probably wondering how we are holding up. Although we miss our little boy, we are ridiculously thankful that he is now home. Can you picture him rough housing with our Abba, Father? Matt can see! He may even be able to see us here writing about him--depending on how that whole time/space thing works. He squeals with delight while snuggling with the lambs and wrestling lions. His muscles work, and he can not only smile, he laughs! Thank you, Jesus, for taking our boy home.
Joy, peace, hope, love. These words don't even begin to describe the overwhelming spirit of gratitude given to us today. All day, I have asked for an analogy to help me describe to myself--much less to others--how we can feel joyous in the midst of such loss. This is our best attempt at an answer:
For months we have grieved Matt's passing. We walked with him down an arduous and often ugly path. We watched as he struggled for each breath. We watched and did not look away as his body began to deteriorate until it was only a shadow of the beauty that had been. And now, after all that horrific struggle, our boy is home. He isn't a little home either. He is all the way home with Jesus. I can wish for nothing better for our other children than that they too will one day enter into paradise to romp, play, and create eternally with our Savior, and our God.
Aren't we even a little sad? Don't we miss Matt's sweet cheeks and the way he cuddled so closely in our arms. Yes. We miss him, but our missing compared with the glory he now knows are incomparable. And here is where the analogy comes in. Imagine with me that you are at a State Championship soccer game watching your son play. It's late in the evening and bitterly cold. You have a headache because you didn't have time to grab dinner on your way out to the field and you are hungry. Work was pretty bad, and it cost $15.00 to get on to the field to see you own son play! So, cold, hungry, hurting, and a little poorer, you stand shivering on the sidelines watching your child play for the title. Just when you think you couldn't possibly feel any more miserable, you wipe the drizzle from your eyes (it's raining now too) to see you son slide through the mud both legs extended to send the ball flying right into the upper right corner of the goal. He scores and seconds later the buzzer sounds. Your son's team has won the championship! Of course, you still have a headache and you are still hungry, but you don't notice anymore because something so much bigger than dinner has occurred right before your eyes. Your son has fought a valiant fight, and now he is victorious. He overcame great odds, cold weather, and tough competition to win the title. You are so elated with his success that you no longer remember you are hungry or tired or cold.
We feel like this with Matt. Even though we miss him terribly and mourn the separation we now endure, we are so thrilled with his eternal victory that we cannot quell the joy overflowing from our hearts. The sorrow we feel is overshadowed by our joy at his success. Matt is not only no longer suffering, he now lives.
"Go, Matty, Go!" (what mom doesn't want to get to cheer for her son at least once?) "You did it, buddy. No more tears. No more sorrow. No more dreadful pain! Play tough, little boy. We are so, so thankful you made it home. Please pray for us that we might know the mercy of our God and the unmerited salvation you now enjoy."
We would not bring Matt back if we could. C.S. Lewis once said that Lazarus should be considered the first martyr rather than Stephen because he had to die twice. Death stinks. Having completed that wretched journey, we who say we believe ought to act like we do and celebrate through our tears the success of those we love. In our grief, real as it is, we must not forget the hope of heaven.
We are praying that no matter how tough your situation is today, you will know the hope we have in Christ, a hope that will not disappoint. This old hippie song from my childhood has been running through my head off and on for the past three months, "Heaven is a wonderful place filled with glory and grace. I want to see my Savior's face because heaven is a wonderful place." Paul wrote that if heaven is not real, then we are to be pitied most among all men. If, on the other hand, heaven is real, we have won a great victory. Live in light of that hope knowing that all of these trials have their purpose to perfect us into the image of Christ. The best is still to come.