My mom passed away on August 6. She was 96. But it was still a surprise! I talked to her at 3 that afternoon and by midnight she had gone Home. She had actually sounded really upbeat that afternoon. We bemoaned the ending of the Olympics. She was going to get her hair done on Monday. She was still “with it”, though often bored and lonely. She still lived in her home. My three siblings all lived nearby. But now she’s gone.
Last night Lynne and I were looking at pictures, selecting some to go in frames in our “new” home (we moved three weeks ago). One of the pictures was my mom with my oldest daughter on her wedding day three years ago. She was out on the dance floor that night, albeit moving very slowly and being a good sport. I teared up immediately.
For the last few years, I called my mom most every day between 4 and 6. Now I think about her every day about that time.
The author of Ecclesiastes says that funerals are better for us than parties (Ecc. 7:2). Death requires us to face something about ourselves that is inherently distasteful and, if not frightening, disorienting. My life, this life, as I/we live it has an expiration date. It ends. “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.” (Ecc. 7:4)
My mom was a believer in Jesus. But it certainly wasn’t enough to stop her questions: “What will it be like? Who will be there? What will we do? How will I recognize people?”
Shoot, I don’t know! She thought I was the religious one in the family so I should know the answer to these things! 😊
But there were other questions: How do you really know that heaven exists? How do you know? How do I have certainty when I haven’t talked to anyone who has been?
That conversation with a 40-year-old is one thing. It is theoretical. For my mom, and then for me, these last few years it become much more real than that. My life as I know it has an expiration date. It will end.
How do I know? That question hangs as it never has before. The leap of faith in some ways feels like a longer jump. The seriousness of the relative shortness of this life becomes more real. Walking by faith rather than by sight feels weightier.
Over the years, I could make a case that living for Christ, aligning myself with His sense of calling and purpose, while sacrificial, actually made sense. My life today is better when I line up with Him, because that is how I was designed to live. He really did come so that I might have abundant life!
But death makes us view our faith from a different place, from a different perspective. How do I know?
As I have sat with that question these last few weeks and even months, it feels weightier than it used to. But the more I sit with it, the more I return to the foundation of what I believe. I know because I know that He died and rose again. I know because He said He was preparing a room for me. I know because when He rose He promised to come back and take His home. I know because He demonstrated His love for me, in that while I was a sinner, He died for me. And He rose again!
See you soon, Mom!
Palmer Trice is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He is married to Lynne, has three children and has been in Charlotte since 1979. In his spare time, Palmer enjoys golf, tennis, walking and reading.