Sleep did not come easy last night.....
My wife had gone to bed, yet I was not ready. I sat in my chair bathed in the glow of the lights from the Christmas tree. Rambling thoughts caused my emotions to surface. Thinking back over the year, I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into a spiritual funk. My sister in law had died in July. Friends had also passed this year. It seemed that with each passing day, our ranks grew thinner and thinner. I hated it. The emptiness...the separation. No matter how hard you tried to convince yourself that it was "all a part of life"...that did not soften the pain that I felt.
I was helpless. I watched day after day as my wife grieved the death of her sister.
Getting up from my chair, I made way outside to stand on our porch. Rain fell softly and only added to the gloom that seemed to engulf me. It was Christmas eve, and, as the the story goes, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. Up and down Greene Street I could see the lights from my neighbors trees casting an eerie silhouette on the front windows. Didn't seem like joy would be a part of our celebration this year. But there in the darkness of the street I heard a very familiar voice. It was coming up from Case Avenue, softly filling the air..."This is my Father's world....and to the listening ear....all nature sings, and around me rings...the music of the spheres." slowly, as the voice drew near, I could make out the outline of the one who was singing this soft melody. It was The Visitor.
"Hello, Michael.....can't sleep?" He asked.
It had been several years since our last encounter, but each time we had met, He brought a comfort that seem to push all the dark emotions and feelings to the back of my mind and heart.
"Where have you been?", I asked.
"Been? I've been right here all along."
"Here?", I questioned Him. "I didn't see you. You never spoke or came by, or even knocked on my door. I just don't understand."
"Did you notice that new limb on the tree nearest the street?", He asked.
Limb? Tree? What does that have to do with anything, I thought to myself.
"No...I didn't notice it.", I shot back.
"Well, it was here all along, wasn't it?", He responded.
"Just like me....the limb was always there...you just never took the time to see it."
Point taken,and I felt a bit ashamed of the way I had spoken to Him.
Moving to the porch, The Visitor stood next to me. Putting His arm around my shoulder He softly spoke...."I know what you are going through. I understand the pain you feel because of death. I fully understand the helplessness you feel because you can't soften the pain and emptiness your wife is feeling"
Those words brought comfort and yet, at the same time, made the pain worse.
"Why is it suppose to be this way...why do we have to go through this whole twisted dance we call "Life and death"?"
"You know the reason," The Visitor responded to my question.
"You know that every death only reminds us that sin is in our midst. Father never intended for death to be a part of life. The two in the garden brought that in with their disobedience."
"Yeah, well I'd like to have a few words with those two.", I shot back.
"Michael, if you'd been there in the garden you would have chosen just like they did."
We don't like to think of ourselves in such a manner.....but what The Visitor said was true. As Charlie Daniels said in his song..."When I had a choice between good and bad, I'd pick bad two out of three."
"It still hurts", I spoke softly....with those words, my mind was flooded with the faces of those who had gone on. Tears began to form and roll down my cheeks.
"I know it does, but the pain is from your perspective, not from the Father's, or even those you miss. Here you are....standing on your front porch.....it's Christmas eve.....and what is suppose to be a celebration of My birth is mired down and stuck in the pain of your own heart. What do you suppose Peggy is doing right now?" The Visitor asked. I knew what He wanted me to say, but the pain and selfishness of my own heart would not let me.Eventually I gave in and responded to His question....."She is celebrating her first Christmas with You, The Father and The Holy Spirit." "Right she is....DO you think maybe you do miss her?", The Visitor asked.
"Do I think I miss her? What a dumb question...of course I miss her," I thought to myself.
"Or do you think maybe there is a part of you that is selfish and wished you could celebrate the way she is doing?"
That did it....the tears came heavy and fast....
"I'm just tired, and I don't like this whole bit of getting older, and I hate it that my friends and family are dying all around me." I sounded like a spoiled child who was lamenting the fact they didn't get their way." I was suddenly embarrassed by my tears and my words.
"It's o.k.," The Visitor said. "I totally understand what you are going through. But I want you to focus on something." "What?", I asked.
"The Promise." He replied. "The Promise that fills every verse in My Book. The Promise that binds and threatens all darkness brought about by the devil and his minions. The Promise that is greater than death...greater than any separation death creates. The Promise that I am who I claim to be....and that I will do what I have said I would do. Did I not say that I had gone to prepare a place for you?" "Yes," I said. "Did I not say that if that were true that I would return and take you there to be with Me forever?" Again, I replied, "Yes". "Then believe it," The Visitor spoke. "Believe it beyond what you feel. Believe it beyond what your mind tells you. Believe it to the point that this Promise becomes a very part of your being, for you see.....this Promise is the Hope of Glory." I was suddenly filled with a new perspective. "How can this be?", I thought to myself. "How can I suddenly feel so alive, so refreshed.....so filled with hope, and yet, at the same time, still experience the pain of separation." I looked into the eyes of The Visitor to ask how this was possible, but before I could speak, He said, "The Father loves you more that you could ever comprehend. His Promise triumphs over any and everything that is found in this world. Always remember that."
"By the way," The Visitor said, "It's officially Christmas." Suddenly the air was filled with the sound of praise and worship. The veil between heaven and earth had been pulled aside and I heard what the Shepherds heard that night when The Visitor had arrived on planet earth.
But He was gone.
We miss you.
God on you...