Earp Takes Aim | Faith, Culture, Life

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Can She?

A friend recently suggested a song that might help me as a I grieve. It’s called, “If You Could See Me Now” and it’s written from the perspective of a loved one who has died. Intrigued, I went to iTunes, plunked down $.99 and downloaded it. Ain’t technology great?

The song’s lyrics wasted no time sticking it to me. The very first line was: “Our prayers have all been answered, I finally arrived.”

Really? Our prayers were answered? Sounds elementary, I realize. But to me, it was the first time I faced the hard truth that yes, our prayers were answered. Not when we wanted them answered, much less how — but they WERE answered.

I immediately pushed pause, a mere nine words in. And as I wept through the implications of that opening line, I tried to wrap my arms around what was to me a simply devastating truth.

Yeh, like it or not…sometimes God says, “No.” I didn’t want His “no” {and neither did Cindy for that matter}, yet “no” was His answer.

But this darned song was just getting warmed up. Moving into the chorus, the loved one who has died seems to want the one left behind to know that even God’s “no” is also God’s “yes.” A “yes” to something far beyond anything the one grieving can currently touch, see or conceive.

“If you could see me now, I’m walking streets of gold.

If you could see me now, I’m standing strong and whole.

If you could see me now, you’d know I’ve seen His face.

If you could see me now, you’d know the pain is erased.”

Just so you know — I believe that stuff. Every line of it. And I continue to believe it…and haven’t even once doubted it. And yet my tears keep flowing anyway. However, the next line is the one that really buckled my knees:

“You wouldn’t want me to ever leave this place, if you could only see me now.”[1]

I sometimes tell myself that I could do this journey better if, in fact, I “could see [her] now.” Primarily because my last sightings of Cindy were “then.”

When she could no longer talk or eat — I still see her “then.”

When every part of her was slipping away, slowly but surely. Since we did this journey together, my most vivid memories of Cindy are of “then.”

When she had already departed – and already “arrived.” Until the funeral director came, I couldn’t release my grip on the ravaged body she had forever left behind. That’s the BIGGEST “then” I still can’t erase. A painful, devastating “then” that isn’t even close to Cindy’s “now.”

Can you relate to the dilemma I’m struggling through? I can’t see what I strongly believe. I strain to see “now” but “then” is all I seem to see.

 

I realize this may sound self-serving, but Cindy got the better end of this deal.

Yes, she suffered greatly during those 14 awful months. And her courage during those painful times was breathtaking. But Cindy’s suffering is over — whereas mine feels as though it has barely just begun. Besides, my Bride is whole now…and her husband is way less than half-whole. And although I’m thrilled for her that her pain is completely erased? My pain is as debilitating as any I have ever known.

But here’s the implications of this song that really nailed me:

I know I can’t see her “now,” but what if she CAN see me?

There is some legitimate reason to believe that maybe she can. Jesus told a story once about a rich man and a beggar who both died. The rich man, after death, “looked up and sawthe beggar. Jesus also described a great chasm that keeps “those who want to go from here to you cannot.” So what would make someone who is dead “want to go” anywhere?[2] Some knowledge, some awareness of an unmet need. In the case of this story, a desire to comfort those in agony.

In Hebrews 12, it says that we are surrounded by “such a great cloud of witnesses.” Some say that all this means is that these witnesses set an example for us and not that they are watching us. But I think they are surrounding us, much like fans in a stadium — for the very purpose of watching us so that they can cheer us on as we run our race.

Some say that if they are watching, they might see things that could make them cry – and there are no tears in heaven. Others say that the inhabitants of heaven are so preoccupied with worshiping God and enjoying heaven that they have no interest in anything happening here on earth.

I’m not so sure.

When Moses and Elijah got transfigured, they were chatting about “His departure” and the “fulfillment at Jerusalem.”[3] Meaning what? They were obviously very conversant about the doings and happenings on earth.

And remember what Jesus said about the “rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents?” Most people assume those rejoicing are the angels. But it actually says, “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels.”[4] So if it’s not the angels actually doing this rejoicing…evidently the saints in heaven are also involved – especially whenever they witness the conversion of someone they knew and loved on earth.

But what about the no sorrow, no pain, no tears part? If my loved one can see me, can’t she also see things in me that would discourage or frustrate or bother her?

No. I believe that for those who reside in heaven, there is nothing they might ever see on earth that could diminish to any degree the ever present joy of that amazing place.

 

As comforting as that is to me, that truth is still another reason why I believe Cindy got the better deal. Because even though I can’t see her – maybe she CAN see me. A huge part of me envies that. But another part of me has also started wondering, if she can see me, what would I want her to see?

Would I want Cindy to see me wallowing in self-pity or a grinding never-ending torment? Would I want her to see me stuck in “then” and stubbornly unwilling to embrace my “now?”

No! That’s NOT even close to what I would want her to see. I’m amazed at how some who grieve feel the need to out-grieve others who have also lost a loved one. It’s almost as though they try to make up in death what they failed to do or wished they could’ve have been in life.

Thankfully, I don’t have that need. I don’t mean that I had no imperfections. I only mean that I have no regrets. I loved my Bride fully. I cared for her and walked every painful step alongside her. And because that’s how we made our journey, I have never been stuck in some perverse need to “prove” that I miss her.

I just really do miss her.

But what if she can see me…?

What I would want her to see is not a defeated, depressed and dark version of the “me” she knew “me” to be. I would want her to see the “me” her love shaped “me” to be. A better “me” than the “me” she found when she met “me.”

And that’s where I got the better deal. In life, she made me want to be a better man than I had ever been before. A better husband, a better father, a better pastor, a better writer — you name it, she made me want to be better.

Even more, Cindy’s love taught me how to laugh again.

That’s why I spent my birthday with her gal pals — and did my best to speak in joyful terms and to laugh about good times and to speak positively about my future.

I wanted Cindy {and her friends} to see me sparkle again. Like I used to sparkle…when she made me want to be better.

Cindy’s love also taught me how to love again.

I was damaged goods when God gave her to me. Love had long before become a “concept,” a bit of “theology,” a theoretical “possibility” — for everybody else, but not for me.

But in the protective shelter of Cindy’s amazing love, my heart slowly opened again. And by the time she “arrived” in heaven, my love was in full bloom.

A friend told me recently that when someone loves fully, they will love again. Perhaps more freely and more substantially because they have truly experienced an unhindered love. Well, if that’s true? And if Cindy can see me? I want her to see me still loving without reserve — loving my kids, my ministry, my friends…and even myself.

Cindy’s love is also teaching me how to live again.

I’ve been wanting to get a bicycle to ride to work. Cindy urged me to get that bike. But I kept putting it off – for several reasons. But if she’s watching me…? I want her to see me pedaling up North Valley Parkway.

I also want her to see me doing other health things, like eating right. And keeping a good balance between work, rest and fun.

I want her to see me still wanting to be…well, better.

 

I can’t see her “now,” but if I could? I really do believe I would see everything the song says I would see. But if she can see me “now?” I really want her to be proud of me “now.” I want her to know that her sacrificial investment in me is still prompting me to be better and informing my goings and doings — even “now.”

Ahh, if she could only see me. And who knows? Perhaps she does.


[1] Kim Noblitt, 1992 Integrity’s Praise/BMI and Dad and Dann Music {Sung by Truth on “Something to Hold On To}.

[2] See Luke 16:19-31

[3] Luke 19:31

[4] Luke 15:7-10

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