Monday, May 27, 2013

Original Steve, Part II

6:55 p.m. Today's project was to grasp a new perspective on my husband Steve's demise on January 1st, following on the heels of the kids' and my burger feast in his honor at home on Friday night. We all had plenty of stories to tell about Steve and the meals he enjoyed, from the Dr. Pepper to the Barqs root beer, salt 'n vinegar chips, and his most favorite, my imitation Western Bacon Cheeseburger! We ended our meal with his crave, Dreyer's vanilla ice cream, topping the scrumptious "blondies" (light brownies) made by my daughter-in-law Marisela. The weather was mild, cool, and just right for a meal on the patio, with lighted fans keeping the mosquitoes at bay. But ultimately, what made our meal a celebration instead of a wake was knowing that Steve is rejoicing, worshiping, fully fit and mentally sharper than he ever was, in his permanent home in heaven. As II Corinthians 5:8 makes clear, when a Christian is absent from the body, he is present with Jesus.

The Lord showed me a perspective on that verse from the other end of life's spectrum after church today. I ate lunch at China One, a new restaurant that was partnering with Calvary Chapel Christian School (of CC Moreno Valley), by donating 15% of each customer's bill to the school if they brought the pertinent flyer from the counter in the foyer at church. I expected to see a number of folks from Calvary there, but didn't mind eating alone for a good cause. I wasn't alone for long, because my daughter's friends Noah, Crystal, and their one-year-old Lilly came in, and said, "Are you lunching alone?" I said, "Yes." Crystal said, "Well, not any more!! We'll take this table right next to you!"

Don't you love it? I'm not about to give up on the next generation, and I hope you won't either!

This couple lost a baby, terribly deformed, dying in the womb. I can only imagine the sorrow and devastation that accompanied the delivery of a child God had named but did not allow to see life on this earth. We don't know God's reasons for the deaths of children, but I do know that God will not give us more than we can bear, no matter how dire the trial God sends us as individuals. He chose this couple to be a witness for Him.

I remember what Jesus said about His selection of Saul, Acts 9:15-16:

...He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake.

As the three of us were sharing our testimonies over lunch, quite openly and boldly, they commented that they have been a witness to their family members with the joy that they still have in Christ, with one another, and as a family, despite the tragedy they suffered. I concurred, in that there is no reason for believers to just curl up and die mentally and emotionally when a loved one goes to be with the Lord. Just think of the rejoicing Steve is doing, the reunions he is having! We talked a bit of what their boy will look like when they see him one day in his perfect body--what a thrill, what a hope that gives Crystal and Noah! I shared my thoughts about "Original Steve," as well.  Of course we have sad times, thinking of the loss of our expected futures with an infant for them and with a retired husband enjoying our golden years in my case.Two ends of the spectrum of life on earth, the very sin-cursed earth of sorrow and destruction.

Yet, the three of us cling to, by actual experience, our calling is to be a part of  God's "holy nation, a peculiar people" (I Peter 2:9) And the reason we can go forward in life? Here is the the believer's proper reaction to death taught to us in I Thessalonians 4:13:

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as those who have no hope.

And finally, the Apostle Paul shouts from the pages of scripture through the ages to us today in I Corinthians 15:57:

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (over death) through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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