Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Only God Could Do That

Nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37

“I’m probably going to be dying soon.” I never dreamed I’d hear my thirteen year old voice those words. But as I watched, listened and stayed nearby while he skyped with a family friend who now lived overseas , he explained that his time had come. Luke asked gentle questions, and Peter shared how, although he dreaded leaving those he loved, he wasn’t scared but almost excited.

Only God could do that.

The night before, we had sat on the couch with Peter, our pastor and hospice nurse close by. Medical tests confirmed the failure of his digestion system. We explained how his body could no longer process food into energy quick enough. My husband questioned until Peter connected the dots and understood. “I’m dying,” he said. I couldn’t say it. My husband didn’t want to say it. But Peter did.

We all felt some shock. We’d been struggling through GI issues for 5 months, the last 3 months increasingly intense. But even our doctors had failed to put all the pieces together and recognize what exactly was happening. Yet as we continued our discussion, tears formed as I witnessed Peter’s smile and peace. He understood the freedom he’d soon experience. He anticipated seeing his brother again. He displayed surprise but no fear. Even our pastor commented in amazement at Peter’s peace.

Only God could do that.

When Andrew died, Peter had just turned three two weeks before. We explained to Peter that Andrew had died and “gone to Jesus’ house.” We explained how his body, the part you could touch, had stopped working but the part of Andrew that laughed and played, the inside part of Andrew, had simply moved to heaven where he had a new body and could run and play again. Just like when Andrew would go on a play date, he was simply at someone else’s home and one day we all would get to go there. We’d all be together again.

No one gave us magic words. No one told us what to say. No one told us how to support Peter’s understanding as he matured and faced his own declines. But we didn’t shy away from questions or hard discussion. We spoke about the inevitability of death, but also the reality of heaven. We emphasized how God would remedy the problems of this life once there. We imagined the joy and happiness there, connecting it with loves here on this earth even though they didn’t compare. But the whole process somehow worked. Peter grew up never doubting heaven’s reality, an understanding that now contributed to his peace.

Only God could do that.

Somehow that night we all slept. We awoke the next morning, Thanksgiving Day, with the daunting task of notifying family and friends. After Peter’s morning meds, I asked what he thought about everything now that he’d had time to think about it. “It’s hard to leave.” That’s all he said, but it said it all. The only difficulty with which he struggled was the goodbye, embracing a separation of unknown length.

He only asked one question, “Will it hurt when I get my new body?” I happily shared from scripture God’s promise how our transformation happens in a twinkling of an eye. We reviewed the many aspects that would return to his life, things we had previously studied in scripture as he grieved each loss. After Jesus’ resurrection, he had a body you could touch, he walked and talked, and he ate food with his disciples. Peter too would regain all he lost and more. Similar to his being at a play date with Justin, he’d have a blast with someone he loved while he waited for us to come. I explained that one day soon, he’d just realize that he could walk. He’d get up out of bed, take Jesus’ hand, and go home. That thought brought his only tears, a few moments of grief at having to leave. But from then on, like he told Luke, he felt excitement at going home.

Only God could do that.

Over the next eight days Peter had so many amazing moments of joy and laughter with family and friends. Moments of struggle did occur, but Peter’s peace and alertness brought the encouragement needed to face each day. His peace brought us peace. Daily he expressed his desire to be done, to go home, his readiness to leave. Although hard to hear, it kept us focused. In merciful calm, Peter finally experienced the freedom from disease, freedom from earthly failures, freedom from pain and angst and this broken world. Having embraced God’s provision for his redemption, we could rejoice in Peter’s freedom just as we knew he was.

Only God could do that.

Only God can provide true security and peace. Every trapping of earth to which we turn for peace, comfort, security, or pleasure ultimately fails us. It offers a temporary distraction rather than an eternal confidence. Whether facing death as a thirteen year old, or facing the death of your thirteen year old, or in any way it comes, only experiencing death with God ensures an experience of peace.

Only God can do that.

1 comment:

  1. Juli,

    I know this was last week's post, but I was very touched and moved by it then, and have thought about it since.

    Peter's peace brings me peace. Your calm and certainty reassures me. Thank you for your words.