27 December, 2007

Not Sad (Quite The Contrary)

Christmas resulted in a torrent of good, new music (my dad introduced me to the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Go check them out)! Huzzah!

One new album I have is Switchfoot's Oh! Gravity which I should have gotten myself long ago (at least before I saw them in concert recently--post about that is coming).

Their song Yesterdays is so, so so so so so good on every level I can think of (guitar parts? Aiie, they send shivers down my spine). If I had a six-star playlist like John, this would probably be on it. It is, however, on a playlist called Death/Funeral. By far, it's my favorite song of the four that are currently there, though the average rating is 4.75 stars. Why? The topic of death causes me to worship like few topics do. Please, let me explain. I know you're probably creeped out, but hey, it's my blog, and I really want to tell you this story.

Years ago, before Christ, I was deathly afraid to die. I would lay awake and imagine ghastly events resulting in death, or imagine that death was imminent. Because of this, gory things don't scare or gross me, and it probably contributed to my insomnia. My parents often dealt with this fear, since I woke them up a lot, claiming I could see smoke (in the dark?) and was convinced that the house was on fire and we'd all burn in our sleep. (How old was I, Dad? Four or five, maybe?) But one night, my dad gave me a verse to remember, which was Psalm 30:5*. He explained to me the concept of faith, and that faith is reaching out in the dark with my heart and knowing that God was there, beyond a shadow of a doubt, and had only good things in store for me.

At that tender age, I began to wrestle through thoughts of God's existence, sin, Heaven (reward), and Hell (punishment). God was certainly there; I can't remember a time in my life where his voice has not been audible to my soul. My (meager) life experience led me to believe that he did reward faith and punish sin, though he sincerely did not want to punish anyone. What had I to lose by culturing faith in God? Yet, everything was to gain by doing so.

Late one night when I lay awake seeing wisps of smoke and fighting the urge to wake my parents again, that verse came immediately to mind. "His favor lasts for life! ...Joy comes in the morning!" I latched onto that promise, and for the first time believed that God had only good things in store for me. Joy will come. At first, I hoped it meant that I would live to see the sun rise again, but if it didn't I would be seeing the Son, which must be better than anything I can see here. In those sleepless nights, God helped me cultivate a sense of anticipation, learning more about death and that it isn't the end, or even just a stagnation, but a portal. What lies beyond that portal depends on what one does before reaching it, and God accepted my childish faith and assured me of a purely good future. What exactly that goodness was, I could only imagine, but my faith filled that unknown.

Over the years, I've learned tiny bits about what Heaven and Judgment Day will be like, and have realized that there's more--my faith must result in action. But I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that death is going to be exciting! There are good things in this life that might not be in Heaven, but God has nothing but good in store for me, so if he chooses to give me another kind of goodness, it must be better than anything I've known yet. There are things, however, that I will be so glad to not have. Arthritis has pointed me toward the promise of Heaven so many countless times. Did you know that in Heaven, we'll have new bodies?!? This makes me breathless! No pain, ever! Did you know that God can't stand the presence of Evil? So if we're going to live in his presence (can't type, mind is exploding...), then we can't even consider the topic of Evil. Petty thoughts and hurtful actions will be GONE! AH! What could be better? No Utopia could match this! How can I even think about such a lofty ideal? I don't know! I know I can't realize any of it, or really predict anything. It's a wild, glorious unknown. It's a place I can barely wait to reach. In fact, I've thought about going there NOW, but Philippians 1:21-26 has kept me here to fulfill the good purpose God has for me.

If the paragraph above didn't make you breathless, or laugh, or at least smile, my writing has utterly failed. Language is a pitiful medium to communicate such ideas--that's why you should go read what the Bible says about faith, promises, goodness, and Heaven. Those aren't merely words; they're alive because of the Holy Spirit. He can communicate in ways I can't imagine.

Heaven is why death holds no qualms for me. I have fears about how death may come, and still lay awake imagining unlikely, unpleasant ways to die. But the pain will be over eventually and I, yes I, will see the the Son of God and will be an heiress with him. An equal with God's Son? This sounds blasphemous! But it's true! So true! Every fiber of my body screams in anticipation of this joyous event. (Not kidding. Even my nose is running really hard right now... :-P)

It's selfish of me to wish that no one would cry at my funeral, however. I mean, hopefully my life has impacted at least some others and shown them God's goodness. If they think that my death means God's goodness has ceased to be revealed in at least one aspect, I can't wish that they'd forget about God's goodness. But I don't want my funeral to cater to sadness and depression. Look up! Rejoice in God's goodness! Thank him for what was, and rejoice in what will be!

Every lament is a love song!
~Jon Foreman

*My first "real" Bible, a Precious Moments Bible, had a page dedicated to this verse. I recently gave it to my cousin's daughter. I pray that she learns the same precious truths that I learned, and a genuine faith grows in her heart as a result of that Bible.


Fuzzy said...

Glossing over the big important stuff in that post, as per my MO, I have to say that Brian Setzer Orchestra is For The Win.

Laedelas Greenleaf said...

The "big important stuff" may not be intelligible anyway*. BSO certainly is :-P

*Not that my conversion is unimportant, I just can't do the topic justice.

Meghan G. from church said...

wow, that was really good! I really liked it! Inspiring and convicting.

[Insert Name Here] said...

I was breathless and I smiled, several times. I sighed and smiled at 'an heiress with him...'

good stuff my friend :)

x words? two of them?

Laedelas Greenleaf said...

Cool! I'm glad you "got" it :-)