We had the opportunity to go back and worship with the saints at Trinity Reformed Church yesterday. They are starting a new series on marriage and yesterday was the first installment. It was excellent , but that is not the point of this post. It was after the sermon, before prayer and communion (I think? My head gets fuzzy sometimes), when one of our pastors started talking about the Glory to come, that I felt my eyes well up.
Saturday, while we were visiting Moscow, Idaho, a man shot 4 people, killing 3 of them, including his adopted mother who lived on the same street that I did while I was in college. Despite the (political?) national media coverage, this sort of thing rarely happens in Idaho. Most of us know how to defend ourselves given the opportunity. Even I was awarded my Marksman badge at rifle club when I was in junior high. However, logic had abandoned this man and his wicked plan did not give his targets a chance to defend themselves. The police caught him, but the aftershock, the pain and loss, continues.
It is at these times, when I’m tempted to build a cabin the woods, go all Y2K and never leave my home, the times I feel maternal instinct and fear rise up in me, these are the times that God has begun to gently pull me back.
“No,” the Holy Spirit whispers, “God won. The world should be afraid of you and your children because you are image bearers of the One who defeated it, not the other way around.”
I realize my fear is a kind of blasphemy. This kind of panic-inducing brand of fear never comes from Christ. He is both good and in control, nothing any of us can do will change that. If I really believed that and trusted Him, I would not feel afraid. The God of Israel is not a fear monger.
I went back and a read my post about fear and death. I am learning to remind myself who He is when the peace in my heart becomes skittish. It isn’t bad to need a reminder, you know? The Bible is full of repetition. I repeat myself all the time to my kids because I love them.
So back to church — there I was, tears threatening to give my face a goth makeover in the front row. This never used to happen. For the better part of my youth, I only ever cried a handful of times each year. Especially as a teenager, when I was deeply depressed, the tears rarely came. I couldn’t feel anything good or bad during those dark years, it was as though my heart was numb. But over the last couple years something has changed,
I don’t feel numb anymore.
A couple of weeks ago, I cried watching the end of the movie, Holes. You know, the reunion of the little boy with his mama. I cried watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the episode where her mother dies and she has to go tell her little sister at school — and then again when she sacrifices herself for Dawn and dies in her place. I cried reading Freddy and Fredericka and Shame Interrupted. I was even being all strong after Christmas when our friend’s daughter died, and had not cried until my husband brought me to a moment of ecstasy one night and I was overcome with how good life is. Death stings but God is so wonderful!
The pain of sin (of which death has been a byproduct since Eden) cuts right through us. It can overcome us. The fear of sin and death can literally make us crazy to the point of sinning (have you seen what people are paying these days to stay young and healthy? The obsession? The idolatry?). But when we really know God, we know that He is merciful and good and we know it isn’t appropriate to be afraid anymore. Of course we still buckle up in the car, but that buckle isn’t going to save us unless God ordains it to. I eat well and exercise, but God has decided for my weight to increase dramatically despite my best efforts. During my HG pregnancies, I couldn’t take vitamins, I couldn’t exercise, I was malnourished and dehydrated and on massive amounts of medication for NVP and depression (well beyond what is considered “safe” doses), but my four children emerged from my womb alive and healthy and I know all of that was God because it certainly wasn’t anything I did!
When who God is has been revealed to us, fear becomes obsolete.
We can not only see, but sometimes even feel Him fighting for us, working all things together for our good and His glory as He defeats the darkness over and over again. We can cling to the knowledge that all of this heartbreak will be forgotten in the midst of ecstatic joy and peace one day. We will see our loved ones again. Our bodies won’t hurt anymore. Eventually, relationships that are broken now will be restored into something unfathomably good. Take a deep breath with me now, realize again that we won’t feel the effects of sin forever. Sometimes, when I really believe this down to my core, it gets me. When I catch a glimpse of the coming glory, within that simultaneous joyful and painful anticipation, I feel free to weep.
As my pastor spoke about Heaven, I thought of my parents, my sisters and brothers, my once-upon-a-time friendships, and I anticipated all of us being restored fully into fellowship again and was overwhelmed with peace. I turned to my husband and asked him to check my mascara (it survived). Our children were all snuggled in over and around us. We sat, Ben and I, quite literally covered in God’s blessings. “This is His body is broken for you, do this in remembrance of Me.”