“AJ is gone.” The text came across my phone at 12:34pm. It felt like such an orderly time to die. Which, to me, seemed appropriate somehow as death really is the final bringing of chaos into order. In that moment, everything that was broken is made whole, everything that was lost is found. We had known it was coming, but once it actually happened, her death brought with it a deeper awareness of life and what really matters. I told my friend I loved her and that my heart hurt for her and her loss. I will never forget her response as it touched something deep inside of me:
“This is where the spiritual rubber meets the road. This is the day when His death on the cross truly comes to life in a believer. So surreal. All of our saved days matter. But on THIS day, the enemy has no trump card to play. No lies. No fallen angels to help. No scheming or curve balls. On THIS day, he has to watch the rejoicing and accept his failure. For that, I LOVE this day.”
Me too, sister. Me. Too. As my friend grieved her loved one gone too soon, I meditated on that truth. Death…it has a way of bringing us back to life. And I mean life in the bigger sense of the word, and not just the routines and responsibilities of our days. When confronted with death, our focus on the temporary shifts to more of an awareness of the eternal. We ponder eternal things like purpose and destiny, like finding our way home. Home is such an interesting concept and one I have wrestled with a lot lately. I have noticed that we, as humans, tend to spend a lot of time here on earth trying to make it home. We create home within our families, our churches, and our community. Most of us spend a LOT of time and money on the physical structure that we chose to call home, trying to make it the place our souls can find rest. We can even establish home within different social groups or service organizations. And while none of these are necessarily bad, death reminds us that all of these are just a temporary home away from home.
Death brings things that sometimes seem complicated back to their simplest form. It prompts us to slow down, love a little deeper and appreciate the smaller things that have a tendency to get passed over on the busier days. Death stops the clock for a brief moment and demands we pay attention. The same thing happened the day Jesus died. The dark clouds rolled in, turning the daytime sky to night and the veil guarding the Holy of Holies was torn in two. Time stood still as the death of Christ marked the completion of God’s eternal plan to bring His broken people back home.
“This is love: not that we loved God but that He loved us and send His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
From Genesis to Revelation, the thread of home weaves its way through human history and on into eternity. Home is the only reason Jesus died. Every story, every parable, every chapter and book of the Bible whispers “Come home.” Abba Father wants to bring His children back from captivity and into His loving care. The rest of it is just about helping us get there as gracefully as possible. And the enemy does his best to keep us as distracted as possible. With the woundings of our soul front and center, the enemy shines the spotlight on our anger, our jealousy, our pride and our doubt. He tries to take our shortcomings, the very reason we need a savior, and tell us THAT thing is what disqualifies us from the love of the Father. But what the enemy forgets is that death and love have always been intimately connected and for every believer, there comes a day where he is reminded of that fact. Because on THAT day, there are no more distractions. On THAT day, there no more plots or plans or schemes or traps. On THAT day, our dying day, THE CROSS HAS THE FINAL WORD. And for those who love Him, that word is “Welcome home.”