As most of you are aware, I lost my mom due to a sudden heart attack on February 18th. Nothing can really prepare you for the death of someone so dear and close, especially when it was as sudden and unexpected as this. We are mortal. Death knocks on every door. This time it was my family. We were fortunate enough to make a return trip to the US and our time with Dad and the rest of my family has been extremely valuable.

I always joke with colleagues, pastors, and other missionaries that eschatology (a Biblical study of last things) has been and still remains my weakest area of Biblical understanding. If you asked anyone from the small church I pastored in St. Paul, they probably do not remember too much teaching on Revelation or a study of last things. It is not that I was trying to intentionally avoid it as much as it was that I never had a real sense of clarity on so many of the events. So much speculation arises and so many well-studied people have disparate views. Interesting, with the death of mom however, heaven, the new heavens and new earth, and the full inauguration of God’s Kingdom are all topics I’ve meditated much upon in these days. Dad and I have sat and talked a lot about mom, where she is, what she is doing, how we should continue to relate to her, what sort of involvement we have now and in the future with her. 45 years with my dad in marriage and 34 years with me on this earth hardly seemed enough and we say goodbye with hope. I have held close to Romans 8 which I preached at mom’s funeral. We are living in the tension of God’s Kingdom being a present reality but not fully realized. One day we will understand the full weight and experience the overwhelming domination and display of God’s glory. We live in that tension and must live in such a way that understds that God’s Kingdom is in our midst and we are celebrating now what will be enjoyed for all eternity. To that end I think about my neighbors in Nepal, social injustice, the poor being forgotten, and what role Ty and Janessa have to play. God himself, Romans 8 quotes, moans and utters over all creation, longing in His prayers for His own reality. What a persevering, loving, Immanuel God we follow.

Eternity is in view. Mom’s death is the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. I have never cried so intensely with that sort of pain. I also have never seen my father, also my very best friend, mourn with such loss and sadness. It truly brings the phrase “heart-broken” to a fresh, understood experience. We are learning as a family though, that you can recover. You can go on and the intense heart-break does not stay at such a painful level that you cannot live again or move forward. In the midst of such deep pain, I do think about eternity a lot right now and how little most of the cccares of my life have to do with the eternal view. I am also not sitting here singing songs about getting out of this wicked world and floating on the clouds somewhere. That is not my understanding or picture of the fullness of the Kingdom of God. I have a longing in my soul for a new heavens and new earth where God’s glory will cover the earth and His justice will cover the earth as the waters cover the seas.

In 2 weeks we will fly back to Narnia, leaving behind a grieving father and sister in a very difficult place in her life. Life moves forward. There is still a Kingdom that must be announced, demonstrated, and enjoyed. Goodbyes are painful, temporary or permanent. But there is really no alternative in these sorts of situations. We move forward, even when it seems forward is an illusion. God’s grace makes sure paths in the jungle. (Psalms 23 and Proverbs 3:3-6 help me as I think of this. Mom was an amazing example of what it meant to follow Jesus. I still am learning to enjoy fellowship with her as I pray to God. and talk with her in prayer. Eternity is in my eyes,,, lived in Kingdom-reality now with neighbors and friends. Thanks for praying and walking with us through the valley.