It might have a little to do with the fact that I had caffeine last night for the first time in a long while, but mostly I was just dealing with a heavy heart.
While I was in GA, we learned that a someone who, at one time, had been very close to Nathan's family died. He was 43 and had lost a relatively short battle with pancreatic cancer. While trying to find his obituary, I came upon an obituary where he was listed as a survivor. I was very, deeply saddened to learn that his wife had just lost her own mother to cancer almost and exact month earlier. This young woman, left to care for her tow children (ages 6 and 3) had to suffer the loss of her mother and her husband in one month's time. I cannot imagine what she is going through and the weight she is carrying in terms of pain.
When I got home form GA, I looked onto my cousin's blog (he, himself battling cancer currently) and found that a dear friend of his who we have prayed for as he battled cancer, was in his final moments here on this temporary home. His friend slipped out of his earthly body this weekend. He also leaves a young wife and three young children.
Then I scrolled down on my bloglines and found this on Angie Smith's blog. Angie is a Mama that blogs about dealing with life after losing her newborn to developmental complications. In this particular post, she speaks of visiting the grave and posted some images from the actual funeral. There are two images that are engraved into my brain and were for MOST of last night. One is of Todd and Angie sitting together, The image was shot from the back of them and Todd has his hand around Angie, but also has his hand lifted, seemingly i praise to the Lord. A few photos down, there is a picture of this same father, kneeling to kiss the coffin of his child; the size of the tiny coffin is just breath-taking. These two photos, and their existence at the same overwhelmingly-sad event is humbling to me. They speak volumes to me about how we, as Jesus followers, should deal with these heavy and heart-wrenching times.
I am so sad for all of these people. Not for the all ones who have passed, in at least two of these situations there is assurance of eternity. For them, my sadness is for those left here to mourn in the flesh. The pain they feel seems so unnecessary to my human heart. I wish that God could wave His hand an remove the hurt that they are suffering.
In the other case, my inquiry into his faith was met with an answer that described the denomination he was born into and even the religion that his wife was born into, but not and answer that told me whether or not he had surrendered his life to Christ. By ALL accounts, he was a fantastic human being and he was a really "great" person to know. However, there is no evidence that he had a relationship with the Lord. In this case, my heart is heavy for not just his family that is left here to mourn and for the pain that they are suffering, but I am fearful of his reality now too. I believe in Hell. I believe that it is a real, physical place. I am scared that he now knows it to be true also and not just a fable passed down to scare people into false-faith. I so hope that this isn't the case.
I know that is a hard, hard thing to read. It is hard to type. Still, I believe it to be the truth. If your earthly body fails you before you have completely realized your own sin, repented, and surrendered your life at the foot of the cross, you WILL know Hell. (*just as a side-note: don't bother initiating a debate with me regarding the existence of Hell. It is my conclusion based on my own studies, convictions, and beliefs. I am not looking to even know what other viewpoints are on this. I have studied the only original source for this (the Bible) and have come to my conclusions accordingly.)I am sure (and saddened) to think of all the people that were such "good" people in their earthy life, yet continually denied the one truth that matters in this (and any) life. I read a blog shortly after George Carlin's passing that said, "George Carlin is in Hell or Jesus is a liar." It was harsh and even made me wince a little upon reading it, but immediately after the recoil I recognized the solid truth in the statement. Carlin was praised as a pioneer in his "craft". He was , posthumously, given praise after praise from his peers. However, he denied the reality of Christ and His sinless life, torturous death, and glorious resurrection on behalf of OUR sin. All the laughs in the world won't buy George Carlin's ticket out of eternal separation from God. Every knee shall bow and EVERY tongue WILL confess...
There is a sense of urgency that is pressing on my heart now. In my own wedding party, there are at least 5 individuals who don't know the love of my Lord. Over the years, we have lost touch with most of these people. Last night when I laid in bed, trying to sleep, their faces (and the faces of their children) were scrolling in front of my eyes like a long, painful slide show. What will I feel when I get THAT call from one of their family members? Sure, there will be sadness beyond measure. I love each of these people. But will I feel like I satisfactorily accomplished the commission set before me by Christ? Will I be resolved in the knowledge that I brought the gospel to them, lived it for them to see, spoke it for the to hear? Immediately and overwhelmingly, the answer was no. That is a heavy realization. I don't even know HOW to reconnect with these people, but I am going to start by praying for them. I am going pray, fervently, that the Lord will place someone in their paths that will be able to sufficiently represent Christ and His sacrifices for them. I am praying that they will be broken and humbled by the cost already paid for their sin and that they will be seeking the hope that can only come from God.
I am also going to pray that, if it be His will, God will give me the opportunity to be THAT person to them again. I want them to know what I know and to have the blessed assurance that I have. I cannot let myself become complacent in this. That would be the WORST thing that I could do.