The flower fading while a new green shoot sprouts behind it, readying itself for its own beautiful life reminds me of my life, currently in fullest bloom, my three young sons like the little green shoots beside me, just coming into their own.
Last night my littlest son, his face pressed so closely to mine that our noses touched, asked if when people get old they get weak and die. Hesitating a little I simply replied, “Yes, they do.” He connected a few dots in his mind and asked, “Will you get old and die too?”
“Well, yes, I will get old too one day, but not for a long, long, long, long time.”
He reached out, grabbed my face in his hands, eyes squeezed tightly shut and said in a pained voice, “But I will really miss you. I don’t want you to ever leave me.”
While I hugged him back soothing him with promises that I will never leave him, my soul prayed to God that those promises be made true. My own father passed away suddenly when I was two. Our family is no stranger to surprise losses of people in their prime.
Please, Lord, I prayed, let me stay with my boys, let me live to be a great-grandmother, let me grow older and wiser and wrinklier and grayer and softer with the wearing of experience.
Of course I can explain to him that by our faith, we believe that we will be together forever in Heaven, that there truly is no death, but eternal life in the presence of God. At least I can offer him that, something that atheists cannot do. I can offer him hope, comfort, trust that our Creator has us in the palm of his yet unseen hand.
Our conversation stayed with me long after he was contented and off to play with his toys. For reassurance, I turned to the Bible and found this passage, its words lifting off the page like a cozy blanket to wrap gently around my heart.
John 11 23-26 (NAB)
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
What a bold promise Jesus made. Not just for Martha but for anyone who believes in him. In the light of this verse, my own bold promise to never leave my sons does hold true.
God’s abiding peace came over me and I rested securely in these words. One day I hope my littlest one will also read Jesus’ words and find truth and comfort there as I have. All I can do is share it with him often, show that I do believe, and pray God keeps me with my family here on earth long enough that I might have the luxury of watching his their lives unfold like flowers into fullest bloom.