Holiday Grief and Thoughts on Our True Home
- April Motl Crosswalk.com Contributor
- 2010 14 Dec
Some years ago my husband and I went through one of those life transitions that requires unexpected sacrifice. In between jobs, we moved into a tiny studio less than 240 square feet. Our furniture and belongings were scattered across three different family and friends' garages. Our little studio housed my in-home office, a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room and dining area. It was cramped to say the least. Even our cat was obviously less than thrilled with our new living arrangement.
Our entire lifestyle changed. We weren't able to host the Bible studies we were accustomed to having in our home. Schooling goals were put on hold. And this gal who always held a job was out of work. I was a bit stir crazy. In the midst of this, I knew God's hand was pulling at the "things" from which I liked to derive my identity, replacing these things with an identity solely wrapped in Him -- something which is still an on going process for me.
God graciously required only a six month stay in the teeny, shoebox studio and moved us into an apartment with much more elbow room. Things never went back to their old, comfortable ways, but moving into a "real" home was a great delight for us.
When we began to unpack our old boxes of stowed treasures, it felt like Christmas! We got our furniture back, my kitchen goodies, our clothes that had been stored, books and more. It felt so good to look up and see our family pictures hanging on the wall again. Home just isn't home without pictures. And as I placed our earthly stuff around our new dwelling, I felt that wonderful feeling of being "at home" and thought, "I wonder if this is only a taste of what it will feel like when we go home to heaven?"
Home in heaven. The place where we feel like we belong, wrapped in our Father's perfect love, with no distractions or discouragements to cloud our vision of Him. Home, enjoying the completion of our spiritual and emotional maturity so that we can finally be the women we were meant to be! Home, surrounded by sweet love and fellowship with all our spiritual family -- with no more misunderstandings, hurt feelings or issues! Home in peace, joy and satisfaction. Pictures hanging on the wall or the favorite comfy chair are only a very poor shadow of what going home must be like.
Recently, a number of people we know have died. The time is nearing the anniversary of the death of a very dear loved one for me as well. Death is a very sad thing that God didn't intend for His children. When He designed the human psyche for relationship, death wasn't part of it. I think that is why it hurts so much when those we love pass away. Something inside just screams, "this feels so wrong!" Because in many ways, it is wrong.
Thankfully though, we aren't left there. God doesn't leave us -- but He especially doesn't leave us without hope.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord — for we walk by faith, not by sight — we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 4 NASU
To be at home with the Lord! What a glorious thought. Yet the journey there is often hard. Like the hardship of losing our once comfortable home and lifestyle to move into a shoebox studio, aging and death can feel like one loss after another. Paul well understood this and considered that even though his outward body was aging, his heart was being renewed each day and that the troubles that accompanied aging were merely light and momentary afflictions on the pathway to glory.
Whether you have lost a loved one, are facing death or just facing the not-so-fun process of aging, we can wrap ourselves in these verses of hope! All that is of this earthly tent will be "swallowed up by life," but the process can be hard for us to swallow -- whether we are going through it or watching it.
In my family, some of those nearest and dearest have died close to the holidays. My grandparents both died just days away from two of their children's birthdays. I truly wish I had words that could be a salve for those of you who might be grieving a loss right now. I never have found the right words -- I usually cry terribly at funerals because I know the pain of loss the family is going through. But I'm not sure there are too many "right" words -- even Jesus cried at a funeral.
Yet in the foggy stages of grief, I pray that God would grant you an extra dose of faith to walk in "good courage" in the destiny of glory that awaits all of us who have been given the "Spirit as a pledge." May God pour a fresh faith on all of us as we walk this path of life that groans as we wait for our heavenly tents and make our way home.
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April Motl and her husband, Eric, minister at their church in Southern California where he is a pastor on staff. April is the founder of In His Eyes Ministries; a teaching ministry devoted to helping women see their life from God's perspective. For more information about the ministry visit www.InHisEyesMinistries.com.