I have always hated death. I hate thinking about death; I hate watching movies when people die. Hearing about car accidents traumatizes me. I say I know my eternal destination is secure in Christ, but in side I am terrified of death, my own and that of others. I am scared to have to say goodbye. I am sad for the ways I will miss them. I am dutifully scared of those I love that don’t know Christ, and that they will not spend eternity with Him, but ashamedly I am still more sad for my own loss of them than their loss of eternity with Christ. I have always wished this was different for me, but death is one reality with which I have never been able to come to peace.
Jonan’s life, and eventual death on earth, is redeeming this part of me. Who would have thought God would use my son to heal my own heart? Why does such a “tragedy” have to happen in order for me to be healed? I have no answers. I am simply receiving this as something God is giving to me through my son. As we have named Jonan such…that God is a Gracious Giver, I am now being called upon to allow Jonan to live into his name, and receive from him. Oh, the mysteries of life and death…and the redeeming work of God.
The healing goes something like this: After all my fears and deep hatred of death, my heart is changing. At the beginning of receiving our news about Jonan, I could only think about loss. And I believe that is normal and ok. I wept for the ways I missed him already. In fact, I often said to Jeff in our early hours of weeping that “I miss him already; I miss him so much; I want to hold him so badly.” What I didn’t see transforming in my heart was the perspective I have on Jonan’s impending earthly death. Somewhere along the way I ceased thinking about his ending, and began to think only of his earthly death as his beginning of life in heaven. I dream about his welcome Home. I picture Jonan entering heaven and hearing the voice of God (Aslan-like, with both gentleness and strength) saying “Welcome Jonan, son of Jeffrey” (think Lord of the Rings, or Narnia). There is music like we’ve never heard and a reception rivaling nothing. I see his great-grandfather Bobby Penrod , his great-grandmother Ruth Thiel, and his great great-grandmothers Olive Frangella and Evah Penrod, there to hold him and love him in a way Jeff and I will no longer be called to. And at the end of this beautiful line of people there is Christ, pulling Jonan to his lap. (If you would like to listen to a song about heaven I found on youtube today.