It’s been a while since I’ve written. And for both of the people who have ever read this blog, that statement is no surprise. I am the master of the obvious.
So, in the space between my last post and this one life has taken some strange twists and turns. The most major twist is the subject of this post. My mother died two weeks ago today.
About 7 years ago a doctor told her that she had cancer. Doctors have a way of saying the most vulgar things. They say phrases like, “It is as we feared.” Or they say, “It’s not what we were hoping for.” In this case the doctor used the swear-word, “Ocular Melanoma”. The doctor said that if it spread past her eye that she would have no more than 6 months to live. Again…that was 7 years ago. The cancer spread to her lungs, her liver, and her brain. But she had 7 good years. I never saw my mother “dying.” She lived every day of her life. And up until the last couple of weeks she was able to do whatever she wanted to.
We prayed for miracles. We prayed for healing. And we saw it. We saw it for 7 years. The thing I never considered until recently was the fact that miracles aren’t permanent. And I think that’s why so many people don’t believe that miracles have happened when they do. We expect miracles to be permanent. We want healing that doesn’t end up with us just getting sick again. But miracles aren’t just magic tricks from a god in a box. Miracles are always referred to as “signs.” They point us to something else. People who are healed…even people who are raised from the dead…they get sick and they die. The miracle is not about that person in that situation. The miracle is about a God who is making all things new. It is a glimpse at a future in which the God who created the universe will wipe every tear away, and there will be no more suffering, or pain, or death.
So I can say that my mother was healed miraculously for 7 years. And I can say that on January 5, 2o1o at 10:15 in the evening, while family and friends gathered around her singing “Blessed Assurance”, she was healed permanently. The God of the universe reached down and scooped her up in his arms. He wiped her tears away and said, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
In the weeks leading up to her passing there were a lot of beautiful conversations. Hard, painful conversations, but beautiful as well. All of us will one day face the end of our days on earth. I hope that all of us can live a life with as much purpose, and die a death with as much meaning as Wanda Mills. She is not here, but she is not gone.
It is easy to give in to the sadness and the rage. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. But like Job, we can sit in the ashes of our life when things look the most dark and say, “I will put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, I will not speak again.” A friend once said he was jealous of atheists because as a believer in God we have to see meaning in everything. And I agree with him sometimes, but not this time. I love it that I don’t have to be happy about things that happen like this. But I also trust that there is a God who set the Earth on its foundations. Who dug the oceans and filled them with water. Who hung the stars in the sky. Who set the planets spinning in their orbits. Who orders all of existence so that even the bad things fit into the plan. And who put skin on. Who became flesh and blood so that he could scream along side of us in our pain. A God who can look at us no matter what sort of suffering we are in and say, “me too.” And who lived a perfect life, and died the death we deserved. And who now holds the keys to death and hell.
I am eternally grateful for a God who will say, “[I] will wipe every tear from [your] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…Look! I am making everything new!”