Posts Tagged: death

Jesus Redefined Death with His Beautiful Blood

Today was all about death. God revealed his active role in my circumstances through worship. I heard the song “Beautiful Blood” by Kutless for the first time this morning, and I cocked my head in disbelief. It referred to death as being sweet. For someone mourning the tragic death of her son to suicide, the opening line was not something I am easily inclined to accept. My spirit is resistant to stating anything about death as beautiful. Death is our brokenness, death is our bodies breaking down, death ends our connection to our loved ones, death is cancer, death is loneliness, death is final.

My pastor called death a bully this morning! Jesus’ friend Lazarus had been dead for four days, and it was impossible to come back from. Death didn’t even have the decency to spare Jesus’ best friend! Why in the world didn’t Jesus save his friend while he still lived? Like Mary and Martha I want to cry out. Say the word Jesus and my son is healed, say the word Jesus and my marriage is restored. You know that I love you, you know that I follow you. Don’t I deserve something extra? Thomas, Jesus’ disciple, responds to the death of their friend by saying, “Let us also go, that we may die with him. Oh, I have never understood Thomas’ grief more than now (John 11).

You and I may struggle to look beyond death, but Jesus has heaven in view the whole time.

He comforts the sisters of Lazarus and his disciples with these words, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Oh Jesus, I want to believe, help me with my unbelief! Jesus had raised others from the dead, but not after four days in the tomb. The other miracles could be explained away, but not Lazarus walking out of the grave alive. While everyone was celebrating the miracle, Jesus had signed his death warrant.

Today is all about life beyond death because Jesus’ chose death on a cross, in my place. His death is beautiful because he died while I could do nothing about it. I was still caught in sin and he chose me! So his blood is beautiful because I know that my son’s suicide is not the end of my story. God will be glorified.

Opening Heaven in my Grief

The line was 2 and 1/2 hours from the door to the family. I stood there shaking, unsure whether to flee or stay, my own grief deeply moved by the loss of a dear friend. I knew that I was grieving for my son now, in a way that I could not at his funeral. The tears kept coming and I finally stopped fighting them. It just is.

Often, I have heard, the things that you are unable to grieve while you in the midst of shock and pain come out in odd places, and this was mine. As we celebrated Mike, I grieved Jonathan. But, I also saw heaven in a different light. The head knowledge that Jonathan was with Jesus became heart knowledge. I felt that Jonathan was with Jesus, because God gave me a glimpse of heaven through the eyes of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.  The whole trip to Huntington my mind was on the story recorded in Acts 7. As Stephen was being stoned to death he declared, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

For the first time I could clearly see that my son was with Jesus! The heavens had opened and Jonathan saw the glory of his heavenly father. Depression clouds our perspective of heaven, we cannot see who we are or whose we are. Heaven was not a place that took my son from me, it is the place that received his weary, battered spirit and restored it!

 

It is God’s will that are sight is restored in our earthly bodies. (Isaiah 61:1-4) I have been with men and women as they were dying, I have seen the difference between those whose eyes are fixed on things above, and those who cannot see past their earthly goods. A dear woman who I sat with in her last days was ministering to me, even as she struggled to take her next breathes. Another woman spent her dying days cursing others around her, her only relief came when I sang hymens to her. Some see heaven so clearly that it changes how they live on earth, how they treat others, how they see God. Heaven is changing me! It makes me look beyond the grave to see that God is sovereign in all things, even my son’s death.

Wanting to be Heaven Minded So that I am Earthly Good

Colossians 3:1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

“They are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.”, is a false saying! Yesterday I was at  a funeral for a man who was an interracial part of our community, our state, and our lives. Even the Governor and Senator came to pay their respects. Mike’s son shared, “It was not all the things that he did to improve our lives that made him a great man, it was the fact that he loved the Lord his God, with all his heart, soul and mind.” Mike was heavenly minded! I contend, that if your mind is truly on the things of heaven then you will be doing the greatest good here on earth.

I have a son in heaven! To say that he has turned my head towards heaven is an understatement. Jonathan’s death has made me cling to the only one who gave me love, value, purpose and meaning in the first place. Jonathan’s death has forced me to renew the foundation that Christ laid, to strengthen it, and to fix my eyes on Him. Jonathan’s death has increased my longing for things above, and I pray that my longing grows deeper. I want to be heaven minded, because this earth deserves nothing less than my best!

The Value of a Page Written in Tears

Luke 23:44It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two.

I was doing great yesterday morning, but in the afternoon I began sobbing uncontrollably as I was working on laundry. Especially when I saw my son’s bed and could so clearly see his figure, both as a child and as a teenager, curled up under the covers.

Everyday functioning is so much harder with a piece of you missing. You walk through your day with a constant nagging feeling that there is something valuable lost that you are constantly searching for. For those of us who have lost a loved one, there is no quick fix, no glue that will repair this crack in our soul.

I truly believe that heaven is affected by the loss of Jonathan. The day I put my son in the ground the weather went crazy. For the burial the sun shone brightly, but quickly after it began storming and the sky went black. That is why, when the sky suddenly began brightening at 9:00 in the evening, everyone took notice.

My neighbor and I went outside and began snapping pictures. On one side were the billowing lines of the storm clouds, but to the west was this eerie orange light. My husband felt that heaven was mourning with us.

And why wouldn’t heaven mourn? God created each person with a unique fingerprint, there is not a single one of us that he does not value! Jesus came so that we may have abundant life. My son’s life was valuable to God.

What is it that you were created for? As I mourn for Jonathan I also have two more precious little ones who need to know that they have value. My kids struggled to settle down for sleep last night. I snuggled with Natalie first. We giggled like little girls, and she shared how much she missed Jonathan. I then climbed up into Daniel’s loft bed to snuggle with him (no easy task); he was so pleased that I was taking the time to be present with him that he began talking a mile a minute. He had so much he wanted to share with me. To reach beyond my grief to be present with them felt good.

My life has value, So I keep turning the page of my story to find out what happens next, even if it is a day heavy with tears. What page are you writing today?

The Cross is Necessary: Why God couldn’t rescue us through a baby

Mark 15:39When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

Since Jonathan’s death I have struggled with the cross. In all of my getting to know the character of God the cross always made sense. But, since Jonathan’s death I have questioned why the cross is necessary. If God is God then why did Jesus have to die? And of course the underlying question, how does Jonathan’s death work anything for good?

At the Christmas Eve service, as the pastor shared the sermon, the Lord jolted my attention. I mean, sat me up straight and sent me searching for a pen. He said, Karisa I want you to hear this and he wasn’t talking about my ears. My soul was now leaning into the next words.

“It was not enough that Jesus came as a little baby. We don’t need a perfect example, we need a savior.”

It isn’t enough that Jesus came as a baby, grew up among us, did miracles, gave us some good principals to live by. Those are all amazing, but the cross is necessary! Because, you see, with one fell swoop God said Karisa I came for you! Reader, I came for you! Oh, the power surging through my fingers as I type this message to you.

I can celebrate Christmas, despite the loss of Jonathan this year, because God said that I was worth saving. My son was worth saving. You are worth saving.

How can I not live life to the fullest? How can I not wake my daughter up yesterday morning with the delight of Christmas? How can I not share with you the joy that comes in the midst of my pain and casts despair to the deepest part of the sea? I want you to know that Jesus came for you, not when you had your act together, but when you didn’t even know that you needed him. He loved me when I was still forming in my mother’s womb, he valued me when others abused me, he claimed me when I rejected him at 19, and became an anorexic drunk, and he saved me when I was an unwed mother at 20. I had grown up hearing about the man called Jesus, but it is only at the foot of the cross that I really saw him for the Son of God!

Open each day like it is a gift and may it be filled with joy that transcends your understanding! Because, God does things that don’t make sense to me and I love him for it. He rescued me in a mind blowing way, and it started with a little baby in a manger, but it did continued all the way to the cross and a grave that could not contain him! Merry Christmas!

Building Connections: Placing ourselvers where the action is!

Mark 5:28For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.”

Once again the coffee shop has proven to be a place of connection. I go there once a week to make myself available to anyone who needs to talk to or pray. I’m not normally there on Wednesdays, but had to switch days. A friend met me and as we talked and prayed the woman behind us was listening. We got up to leave, but our booth neighbor stopped us and asked for help with her own family situation. We prayed with her and exchanged contact information.

Are we putting ourselves in places where synchronicity can happen? Synchronicity, is defined as: the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection. I define it as those moments when we make ourselves available to the will of God and all of heaven moves to meet us! Since Jonathan’s death I have had many of these synchronicity moments. There has been a consistent theme in my life of children’s homes, horse therapy and counseling training. I do not know what God has in store for all of these connections, but he most certainly is bringing the outline of my path into clearer focus and brought heavenly resources to me.

Jesus put himself smack dab in the middle of the action! He was at the docks where the fishermen were casting their nets, he was in the village square where the Samaritan woman drew from her well at an unusual time of the day. He was in the garden, where God himself met with him through prayer. He was in the Jewish temples where the teaching occurred. He was at the parties, at the tables, and available in the middle of the needs of the people. He moved ever closer to Jerusalem as he ministered, ever closer to his death, and ever closer to providing for the entire world its need for forgiveness and hope.

Maybe synchronicity is occurring because I refuse to let fear stop me. Or, maybe it is because my mission is to offer hope, and turn around the suicide rate. Whatever God’s purpose, I am hopeful and in awe of his storehouse of resources! Jonathan loved the movie A-Team. Hannibal, the leader of the team says, “Love it when a plans coming together!” Even though all of the events seem random and impossible.

When we make ourselves available to God’s plan, he’ll move all heaven to equip you! No, you may not be trying to drive a tank in the sky, like the A-Team, but you may walk on water!

Questions and Doubts

Luke 7:20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’”

Yesterday was a particularly rough day for Daniel at home and at school. As we began trying to dig past the bad behaviors to what was going on in his heart Daniel started blurting out a series of doubts and deep questions. The same questions and doubts I still struggle with. If Jesus took all our sins away why do we still sin? If I love Jesus why can’t I seem to do good? If you and the adults in my life love me, why do you punish me. If Jesus loved Jonathan, why did Jonathan die? He concluded, “It would be easier to obey, if Jesus was here and I could see him.”

John who had been preparing the way for Jesus to come asked “Are you the one, or should we expect someone else?” He’s sitting in prison, awaiting execution because the wife of Herod wants John dead. It would be a natural question for someone who has spent his entire life preparing for Jesus. At its core, if I obey God, why am I facing death?

Many of us have these very same questions. We wonder why do bad things continue to plague us, we wonder if God and those around us really love us. If you struggle with depression, you wonder why living is so hard. I struggle every day with why Jonathan took his own life. I see it as so preventable and sometimes I too am overwhelmed by my questions and doubts. So what hope is there when we have so many doubts and questions?

Luke21-3 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” John the Baptist, took that hope and did not give in to his doubts as he faced death. Even if that path leads through dark places like Jonathan’s death, I still see him laying a foundation for me to offer healing and hope to others who are grieving. Am I going to be offended by who Jesus is? He is patient with my questions and doubts. Do not lose heart Daniel, do not lose heart dear reader!

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