Lately, in trying to wrap my mind around the power of God, I’ve dwelled deep on eternity and existence, trying to imagine a clock or a universe with no walls and no ends. It’s really been a head trip, and brought me at least a little perspective on just how massive God really is. It’s like trying to shove the earth into a teacup, and even that doesn’t come close.
The idea of forever is something that’s really hard to grasp. I never thought that, what would be even harder to understand than eternity, was the end.
I decided last minute today to go see my grandmother. I made my way up a long winding hill, and parked at the very top. Off in the distance, there was a field of cows running and romping around. I saw the play set my brother and cousin and I used to play on while everyone visited my grandfather. They’d recently torn down the wooden gates in favor of a chain link fence. I crept through the gate, and walked up to the grave.
I’d planned all these things I was going to say to her. That I was sorry, that she was right about me, that I regretted the things I’d done just like she said I would. I wanted to tell her how sorry I was that I made her last few years of life hell. I guess her last decade, at least. All I could say was, “You have a great view up here.” It didn’t feel right to say.
I started my speech, or tried to. I couldn’t get most of it out. I’m really not a crier. I rarely cry. But maybe I never really grieved, because all at once, I was overwhelmed with this sense of, I guess, finality. She’s not coming back. She’s dead. Gone.
I guess I’d just never stopped to realize she would never laugh again. Never thought about her not waking up. I get it, heaven is for real, but what about now? And how do I know she made it there? God called me to mission work, but I never felt like I could save her. It was strange, knowing she was six feet beneath me, but she wasn’t really. All that was in the grave was evidence that she had been here at some point, that a life did exist, and she was one of us. But Mamaw was gone.
I kept telling her how sorry I was, and I told her all my secrets. The Holy Spirit tried to reach me. Over and over, I heard, “She’s dead, Jessie. She can’t hear you.” And I started to get angry. If we were going to see greater things that Jesus did, and if we had the same power in us that raised people from the dead, then raise her up! I started arguing with God. “You rolled a stone away, right? I think You can handle a little dirt. Raise her up, and I’ll take her home.” Grief does funny things to your thoughts. It all seemed reasonable the time.
Holy Spirit just said again, “She’s gone.”
I kept asking and asking, God, just raise her up. Please. I know You can. But by the time it was over, I’d started asking God to raise me up.
My grandmother is dead. My dog, my best friend, is dead. Any loss I’ve suffered was never with death. It was in lost friendships and life changes. Death is entirely different. When you die, your body stops. That’s it. And we’re left wanting with all our hearts for just one more moment, one more chance to speak. But the ears don’t work, the mouth can’t speak, and neither would have a brain to understand, anyway.
The heart of existence is in Jesus. He’s the reason we’re here. We’re all trying to find him, even if we aren’t looking. Until we do find him… I guess if death is just the absence of life, then we were all stillborn.