Friday, April 18, 2008

Pondering

A new guest who left a comment on my last post reminded me of something that I have wanted to write about for awhile.
The topic that I have thought of quite often is can Eric understand what is going on in our lives right now? It leads to other questions like....Would he even care? and Can he see the good and glory that is the ultimate outcome of this trial?
We know very little about heaven. We know it is desirable over the other option. We know that it is only for those who are saved by the gift of grace. We know that it is a real place where there is no more pain or sorrow or sin.
What we don't know is when we leave this earth are we leaving it all behind or will we have a glimpse of our loved ones on the other side? I, for one, have had to deal with these questions that seemed rather easy when I was not facing this tragedy. But, now that I am here I find the questions heart-wrenching. I am sure this is due to the fact that the answer is not really the one that I want to hear. So, for those of you theologians out there that know more than me please correct me if I am wrong.
After much thought I realize that verses like "to live is Christ, to die is gain" (thank you Carlee) give me the answer. Even our vows give me a glimpse into what death is all about...."till death do us part". Death is the end of this mortal life. It is the end of our earthly relationships. Our life here is like being in the womb. We are alive and yet we are confined to a specific space. It is when we are birthed that we see the full picture of the world around us. I see heaven as the baby's new world. Eric doesn't see us down here on this earth because he can only see what is his life now. Just as a baby can't go back into the womb I find myself realizing that Eric can't or actually wouldn't want to see back into a world that was not his permanent home. He is permanently home now.
The hard part about this subject is that we like to help a grieving person by telling them that the family member sees what is going on. I was told this after my grandmother died. Some well meaning friends told me that Grandma could see what I was doing and I went on with a vision of my Grandmother either smiling or frowning at my decisions. I know it was said to comfort me in my loss but I just do not see any biblical references to show that Eric even knows what is going on. And, that thought is what makes grieving even more lonely. Eric would be the one to hold me, cry with me, and get me through tough times of grieving. He is not only not here to do those things but he doesn't even care anymore. As I write this I can see where this is going to sound worse in print than it would if I was talking to you in person. I have no animosity toward God's plan. When I say that Eric doesn't care I don't mean that he didn't care before but he is now busy in a new world that is his gain. He has been given his eternal reward. I find myself realizing that the notion of Eric caring for us after being gone is a worldly way to deal with his death. But, is it healthy to carry along the idea that he is rooting for us at the pearly gates?
I will never forget Eric. He was an incredible man who taught me so much. I am a better person for having been his wife for twenty years. And, I miss him terribly. But, I find that, even though it is hard, I have to accept that God has asked me to walk forward into a new life. Not tossing off the old but rather enjoying the benefits (a more sanctified life) of what was a happy, healthy relationship. Every moment of our past makes us a different person for the future.
So, have I made you think? It sure has been something I have been pondering.

11 comments:

thehappypetersons said...

Amen. We don't add any make-believe comfort measures when someone dies. Our comfort is the Lord Himself and His Word our only measure of truth. And He and His Word are enough for us.

I've thought about things like this after my miscarriages--obviously not anything like the depth of sorrow you have, though. But similar lines of thought. We've put His will and Himelf as our goal. He is enough--that is what we have decided. Often our feelings make us wish for more, but our hearts and minds and regenerate wills are set as stone that He is enough.

Blessings and prayers,
Susan

The Herd said...

I think that you are right that the people in heaven are not consumed or affected at all with us and our lives...I do think sometimes of the scripture Heb. 12:1 when thinking of those in heaven...Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

So, not that Eric would be thinking anything about this earth and this life, but we, on earth, do think of what they "would" have thought sometimes when we go through new experiences...and sometimes that helps, sometimes it hinders.
I do pray that you have the peace and wisdom to do what God would have you do.
I think you are thinking right though:)
Karen from Texas

Kenj said...

I was having a conversation with someone several years ago about babies who die prematurely and miscarriages and whatnot. She was arguing that all of these little ones are in heaven, and I said I just don't believe that's the case.

If they are saved by Christ's grace and work on the cross, then yes. Otherwise, we just can't claim that our wee ones (and I do have one who never made it to this earth) are in heaven, much as we would like to think so.

She said, "Well, I just like to believe it because it makes me feel better", to which I replied, "It might make us feel better, but I can't see that line of thinking substantiated anywhere in Scripture."

The bottom line is, we should be infinitely more comforted by the truth that our Sovereign God is in omnipotent control of the comings and goings on earth, not by some squishy, bleeding heart humanistic thought that just isn't a part of God's Word.

But you know that :) And I know you are resting under the wings of our Savior who loves you vastly more than any trite human ideas can muster.

Love you-
Kenj

As One Voice said...

Agreed.

The glory and wonder of being in heaven should never be based on being reunited with the loved ones that have gone before us, but based on the incredible privilege of enjoying perfect, uninterrupted communion and fellowship with our almighty, ever gracious, loving Father. We can and are to be completely satisfied in God alone, His glory our only goal. Those who would encourage us to make the reuniting with loved ones our main focus or a competing goal in reaching those heavenly gates, would encourages us toward idolatry. While these sympathizing folks mean well, what they suggest is not Biblical or healthy. And certainly our loved ones would not want our commitment to them to eclipse our commitment to the Lord.

Let me just say, I have rarely had the opportunity to witness someone letting go as faithfully as you are in the midst of such great pain. You are making that difficult choice to leave Eric behind with amazing grace, another evidence of the wonderful work God is doing in your life.

One other thought, there is no sorrow, sadness or pain in heaven - therefore it follows that our loved ones cannot see us as our situations are often sorrowful, sad and painful.

Continuing in prayer ~ Diana

godlover said...

There's a lot we don't know about heaven or the life to come. I don't think our finite minds are capable of understanding everything.

But I do believe our memories will be kept intact. There's only been one resurrected man in all of history and we can learn a lot looking toward Him. When Jesus was resurrected He came back with all His memories. He knew His disciples and He knew what they were up to. So using that as a gauge as the only example of a fully resurrected person that we have, I have to lean toward thinking that we'll be resurrected with our memories. And it's our memories that make us us. Our entire personhood is resting on the fact that experiences have formed us into the people we are. If we lose all of those at death, how can we be ourselves? I don't know if the departed can "see" us and know what's going on at this point in time. But I think I do believe we will keep our memories.
I don't know if this helps you in your struggles or hinders you. I wish I had all the answers. I wish I knew everything but I think God is probably very gracious to keep that knowledge unknown at this time. Can my son see me now? I don't know but I do believe that at the resurrection he will have all his memories of me being his mother. I'm really not sure what happens immediately after death but I trust in the Father of all compassion to take care of the little things. Paul said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord so I believe that for the Christian death means that we will merely shed our human flesh. Everything else remains intact. But as I said, I don't know everything. I am constantly learning what God wants me to learn. I think above all that being present with the Lord means that we will be free to worship Him fully. That He will be our all in all. That everything that's important to us is wrapped up tightly in the Father. Some things we were not meant to know. These are my musings. And I know full well that I may be wrong. I can only look toward the example of Jesus.

Marj
San Andreas, CA
http://gdlvr.blogspot.com

Melodie said...

Hi Heather! I have been visiting your blog for months and tearfully kept you in prayer through your devastating trial. I only knew Eric as a guest in our home for a short time, but I was clear he was a man of God devoted to his family. My favorite memory was watching Brown Sugar fall in love with her new daddy. She was blessed to have him, even for such a short time.

I am reading this post and have a lot of thoughts. First of all, I do think it is good to not constantly wonder what your loved one is doing, and how involved they are in your life on earth. I agree that they are primarily focused on their new life with our Lord. But I would interpret Hebrews 12:1 as saying that the believers who have gone on before us are indeed able to see us here on earth. How, and to what extent, I do not know. But this is an interpretation that is commonly recognized in conservative theological circles. (And as a side note, the person above who does not believe unborn children all go to Heaven, I have scriptural agruement to disprove that. But I digress.) While our lives on earth are very short (compared to eternity), they are here for a reason. Though our souls are eternal, we will still be given new bodies in the new heaven and new earth. Though some day this earth will pass away, by God's design, it is here today. Who we are, what we do, the time we spend on earth- it's all very important and I don't believe their is biblical evidence to support the statement that after people get to heaven they will not think about their lives on earth. Will they miss it? Of course not. But you were Eric's soul mate, designed by God to be a picture of Christ's relationship with the church. The same spirit that lived in Eric lives in him now as he is in heaven. As he is in heaven and all has been made clear (I Cor. 13:12-13), I believe he is understanding his relationship with you and your family as he never did before. Randy Alcorn has written a very helpful article about our thoughts, etc. once we are in heaven. There is scriptural evidence that Eric does indeed remember and think of you, though now with a new perspective:

1. We will give an account of our lives on earth, down to specific actions and words (2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 12:36). Given our improved minds and clear thinking, our memories should be more, not less acute as to our past lives on earth. Certainly, we must remember the things we will give an account of.

2. The martyrs in Heaven clearly remember at least some of what happened on earth, including that they underwent great suffering (Rev. 6:9-11). They anticipate and look forward with strong emotion to God's coming judgment.

This shows we are incorrect in assuming remembrance of unpleasant things on earth would automatically be impossible in Heaven. The change in our perspective will presumably negate any need for loss of memory.

3. In Heaven, those who endured bad things on earth are comforted for them (Luke 16:25). The comfort implies memory of what happened. If there was no memory of the bad things, what would be the need for, purpose of or nature of the comfort concerning them? (Please read the full article at http://www.epm.org/articles/heavreth.html)

There is no reason to believe that Eric does not remember you, think of you (and the family), and perhaps even inquire of the Lord about you. But his new perspective is not one of concern (He understands fully that you are safe in God's hands), he doesn't want to go back to earth to be with you (why would he want to leave the presence of Jesus?) and as he can now understand how God worked in all the trials he faced on earth, he now has perfect peace that God is performing the same good work in your life, even though he is no longer with you.

I hope this was helpful. I have had quite a bit of theological training (though I am not expert!) and I really want you to understand what the Bible does have to say about life after death, especially in light of your situation.

God bless!

-Melodie Sheppard

Lisa said...

The previous comments are all very interesting and thought provoking. I only have one simple thing to add. It is that "time" as we know it, is of this earth. We do not know what "time" is in Heaven. It could be a blink of an eye for all we know before we are united with our loved ones in heaven!

Woman of Faith said...

Hi Heather (I didn't know your name, but someone mentioned it in these posts, so I am assuming it is Heather)-

I have been reading your posts for some time, and I am so sorry about you losing Eric. You have an amazing bravery and you are so encouraging me in my own life with your faith!

I read a book last year that you might find helpful in your 'pondering'. You can find it at Amazon. "90 Minutes in Heaven" by Don Piper. He was (and may still be) a pastor in Texas. He was in a horrible car accident and tells of his experience of going to Heaven, and being called back to Earth. Some stories of people going and coming back from Heaven I find sceptical, but this one was very moving and I will remember it forever. It is a very easy read, and so inspirational. I encourage you to get your hands on a copy and read it.

Take care, and I will be praying for you and your beautiful family.

In Christ,
Frances

Lazy D Ranch said...

Thank you ladies for all you wonderful comments. A special howdy goes to Melodie who my husband was priviledged to meet in Liberia. He stayed with her parents while there picking up Lil Cowboy and Brown Sugar. They were gracious hosts as Eric ended up being there for much longer than expected due to complications with passports.
You all had such wonderful thoughts and made me go search the scriptures. ~Heather

A.W. said...

I've been following your blog for a while now..and have been praying for you. I really appreciate the scriptures Melodie posted above..my mother is currently losing her battle with ovarian cancer. She is a Christian..it has been a long fight..but it is still so hard. I will be seeking out these verses for my own study...
Praying for you always, lazy d. Just know your sisters in Christ are lifting you up in prayer.
~andrea in mn

SpejoryMama said...

Hi...I have been reading your blog since the day after your husband went to Heaven and have been praying for you and checking in regularly. I lost my mother last June and although my grief is different from that of a wife who suddenly lost her husband, I wanted to share something a dear friend pointed out to me. Last fall, I joined our church choir and was amazed at how healing it was to praise God and sing for Him and to Him. When I discussed this with my friend, she pointed out that by praising God I was also fellowshipping with my Mom, as she currently is praising God with song in Heaven. So regardless of whether or not she is aware of our lives down here, or if she even cares, I can join her in praise to the God who loves us and will eventually have us all with Him forever, every time I raise my voice to the Lord and praise Him.

I have also found great comfort and truth in the following verse: "...and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." Isaiah 61:3. I can relate to your waves of grief, to feeling OK for awhile, then becoming overwhelmed once again. My sister, I am praying for you.

Jenn