There are few things in life that etch into our memories with vivid detail.
Not the kinds of details like "that was so fun!" But details like "I remember wearing my pink shirt and black shorts, and he was there and we laughed until..." Explicit details.
Moments like these which can sort sight and sound and smell into various categories and take us whirling back to a previous time.
Go ahead- and think for a moment. About a memory so vivid you can explain all the details with extreme accuracy.
Chances are it was a good day.
I can remember what I wore the day I was proposed to- and the people sitting around, and how it all went down!
I remember the day I got baptized and how my brother and I wanted to keep swimming in the pool because it was winter in Ohio, and the pool was indoors, and that would've been awesome.
I remember laughing hysterically about Los getting the Camp Truck stuck on the beach and trying to use a cheap foam life jacket as the leverage to get it un-stuck. (Good times. And I am still laughing!)
It's more vague and blurry though in the bad moments.
Usually my feelings are so erratic that I can't imagine or comprehend anything else about my surroundings. My vision becomes cloudy - literally and metaphorically- when my eyes well up with tears, and my heart is heavy.
So go ahead. Think for a minute.
What was a good day?
And if you're surrounded by the vivid memories of a bad day, I challenge you to see beyond it.
Because our instructions in this life, for remembering, are only ever for the miraculous, the redemptive, and the astonishing works of Jesus and His immeasurable love for us, His bride.
In the Bible, people were given instruction to build memorials, remember events, set apart times and seasons- because of God's goodness. Not human frailty.
And I would challenge us all to do the same.
Today marks one full calendar year since my daughter came and left us on this earth. May 14th could hold gray skies and doubtful fears and insecurities for us- me personally. But to be honest, when you've traded perspective of death for His glory, the day can't help but fill you with joy and hope!
For all of you who've remembered our family today- I'm honestly shocked. I have a hard enough time remembering my own family's birthdays. So to know so many people have marked their calendars with our daughter's birthday, is astonishing! Thanks for loving us so!
But, in light of all the things said and remembered, it's our greatest longing fulfilled, when joy and hope, redemption and grace flood the hearts and minds of people in their remembrance; rather than death, grief, despair, hurt, or longing.
I'd challenge us all- myself included- on days when grief seems immeasurably difficult to overcome, to refocus. To realign. To re-center. On the cross. Because it reminds us, while staring death in the face, that there isn't a painful way in dying as a true believer.
If you're feeling the uncomfortable, the hardship, or the even small, brief, slight "sting" from death (be it ours or any) your heart needs realigned with the One who overcame the very thing you're experiencing.
No- we aren't pushing aside Esther's life or death. No we aren't forgetting her memory. But we also aren't idolizing it. We aren't glorifying it. We aren't creating a memorial out of the loss of life. But rather, celebrating all the things she's experiencing - and longing to do them too.
The hardship, the longing, the hurt is in living here in a broken world without constant and uninterrupted communion of Jesus Christ and the Father's presence and glory!
What a travesty.
Come Jesus, come.
So I encourage you- if you're reading- to find the joy in suffering. To find the hope in the longing. To grow your faith in the storm. Because He will meet you there, and as His word promises and I've experienced today and every other day of this human life....
He will bear me on wings like an eagle. And I'll rise with Him in His rest. I won't become tired or weary. But I'll soar above any and all feelings to the truth that is found in Him!
Alan Scott says that John, in the book of Revelation, repeatedly tells us to "look" or "behold". Not the kind that means "glance over to see". But the kind that says, "stare long enough at the revelation of Jesus, until it becomes your reality".
Friend- lets stare long and hard at the cross, at the gospel, at the face of Jesus and the revelation of who He is, until it becomes our reality- and the suffering and the pain and the crud of this world fades to natural surroundings that are temporary - as they should be.
To say I "miss" Esther would be utterly selfish.
And like we tell the other kids, it's ok to be sad sometimes because our hearts know sadness. But the truth of the matter is, Esther doesn't miss us. She's far too busy and far too (rightfully so!) concerned with being in God's presence that she could care less!
It seems like a harsh perspective. But I promise- it's liberating. It's freeing. And I'm convinced it's Truth. Because it's God-honoring. And its what the Word tells us is so.
So if today holds a memorial of some kind for you, would you join our family in remembering the goodness of God- instead the loss of human flesh? Join us in celebrating how much closer we are to the return of the everlasting Kingdom. Mourn with us the hardships plaguing our earthly children and our culture with division and unrighteousness. Grieve over the loss of holiness in our cities. But celebrate victorious living through the cross and resurrection of a man named Jesus. And look foreword with eager expectation to His return!!!