We had a nice visit to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, TN. It was unseasonably warm there, so we didn’t do any cold weather activities. Instead, we wandered through the shops and tested ourselves against the mirror maze. It was a low-key visit, as Austin was tired from her youth group activities and the rest of us were tired from traveling.
On New Year’s Eve, we received news that Richard’s dad, Ken, is in the hospital. Richard’s brother Brad said it succinctly on Facebook, “he has a 2 cm aneurysm in the basilar artery in his brain. He’s 87 years old, moderate health, and we do not have any viable options to address the aneurysm. He is alert with no pain or other significant issues. He will be moved to a regular hospital room tomorrow and likely released a day or two later to return to assisted living. He has been told what is going on but may not comprehend the severity of the situation. Prayers appreciated.”
We are thankful that he feels pretty good, but this is not something that is expected to go away peacefully. It’s hard to focus on living in the moment with this kind of stuff looming over your head, but that’s what you have to do.
“…For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…”
– Jeremiah 29:11
God has plans for us. Wonderful plans. He wants us to prosper and have a future. With faith in Him, we do have a future. Both here on Earth, and later in Heaven. It’s the Heaven part that is hard for us to grasp. I think that might be by design. Afterall, if we fully comprehended the awesome wonder of Heaven, it would be hard for us to focus on living this flawed life here on Earth. We appreciate and love our life here because we haven’t yet experienced the glory of life with God. We grieve for those who are lost, not for their future, but for our own. We love them and want them here with us. But the actuality is that they have gone on to a better place. A place that we know is better, but isn’t completely real to us yet.
I have loved ones that are there already. I miss them every day. Almost all of them left us far earlier than anyone expected. And this past few days spent with family has made me miss them with a keen reality. But one funeral stands out as I think back over my missing loved ones. One funeral planned by a 21-year-old who had just lost his twin brother to a senseless violent act. He could have reacted with anger and hate. Instead he planned a funeral service full of celebration for the brother he loved so much. I heard a song for the first time that day. It’s chorus is “better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere.” Better is ONE DAY. I find immeasurable comfort in that.
I pray that none of us will lose loved ones in this new year, but if we do, I pray that kind of faith and comfort.