My first cousin lost her life to a drunk driver about a month ago. I didn’t know her well — we’ve always lived far apart — but I know many who did and those folks are in real pain. They’ve created a MADD team for a 5k in Nashville in June. You can support the team here.
My friend Jonna is dealing with the imminent death of a parent. She writes about it beautifully here.
There is so much that we misunderstand about death. It is painful to dwell on it. Husbands and wives refuse to do estate planning the way they should because of it. My concerns are more immediate though: How do I comfort my friends and family when they are in need but, more importantly, how do I comfort them correctly?
I am frustrated when I see people trying to provide comfort but doing it incorrectly. They say things like, “There’s another angel in heaven today” which makes me immediately want to correct them but I’m not really sure how. I’m fairly certain that just blurting out, “Nuh Uh!” isn’t the right approach. I’m equally certain the correct way to deal with this is not a theological exposition on the fact that Angels and Man are completely different creations and that transformation into an “angel” isn’t promised biblically.
Mostly, like most, I just ignore these things. I dunno, maybe for some it does provide comfort of sorts and maybe that’s okay. They’re not intentionally teaching heresy by saying these things (I hope) and I’ll admit that it’s a very sparkly “feel good” thing to say but at the same time it sort of horrifies me. Angels are beautiful warriors for God, they are His messengers, and that’s pretty cool but at the same time, it IS heresy and the Truth is even more beautiful. Why do we do that? Why do we pass over the beauty that is the Gospel to provide a little comfort in heresy… in a fantasy? Do Christians really believe this? Why do they believe it? If they don’t believe it; if they know the truth, why do they say these things? Why hasn’t anyone corrected them? It drives me nuts to know that in not providing reproof when it’s due I am part of the problem.
Jonna’s description of heaven in the link above is awesome. She knows that it is created out of her fantasy but knows that nothing discounts her fantasy. She imagines things that are beautiful and that might, maybe, fit into a correct description of Heaven. However, she also knows that no matter how perfect her fantasy it can’t match the glory that is Heaven. She knows (and admits) that she’s painting Picasso’s with crayons here and that’s ok. It’s beautiful and it’s one of the ways that she is dealing with her pain.
I dream of being with my mother again; of hearing her reproofs for my failures and of talking about her views on the few things that I’ve managed to get right. When I have the chance to sit with her and talk about our lives, maybe at a kitchen table much like the one that Jonna describes, I want to talk with my mom. The Glorified, Sanctified woman, not the fanciful cherubic angel which is, itself, a mixed up juxtaposition of two different creatures.
For an excellent read on Heaven check out the appropriately named book “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn. It discusses much of this and answers a lot of questions not discussed here. I haven’t read it but many folks that I trust continue to tell me how awesome it is and that I should.