Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Catch You on the Flip Side

I just had the chance to say my goodbyes to Jeff. It was a tough act for me to do, but not for the usual reasons. For the past couple years, I had been avoiding him, simply because it was a little too uncomfortable for me. I rarely saw him once I stopped attending writer's group, so it was easy to just "forget" about him. Except of course God wouldn't let me. For the past few months, He prompted me again and again to pick up the phone and just call him. And again and again I postponed it, thinking to myself that I just didn't have the time to commit to another friendship.

Thankfully, and mercifully, God got through my thick skull (or maybe thick heart) and I called him. We chatted for a half-hour about nothing of great importance... just two friends catching up after too long a hiatus. I said I'd definitely call again soon (and meant it from my heart), but did dodge his request to get together again at McDonald's for a Coke. With my teacher wife going back to school and my 1-year-old daughter adjusting to day care, I knew September was not going to afford me a lot of free time. I figured after that, I'd have more time and through the phone calls would have grown a bit closer to him again. About a week after that call, Jen e-mailed us that Jeff was in the hospital fighting for his life. A fight he would eventually lose.

I knew enough ahead of time to pray for Jeff's health (thank you Jen). Funny thing was I couldn't ask God to have him win this battle, just for His will to be done. Not that I wanted this hole in my heart, this emptiness from having lost him; it's just how could I ask for him to stay if God's offering him such a deal:
  • He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
  • They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
  • And I know that this man ... was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.
  • The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
  • Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
No more blindness for Jeff... he's seeing marvelous things that none of us can even imagine. No more medical problems for Jeff... he is wholer, stronger, healthier than any of us. No more spiritual struggles for Jeff... he has been made new, and is forever in the unhidden presence of the One who loves him always.

I mourn only for my loss, and those of his friends and family. I rejoice in what Jeff has gained. And I look forward to the day when I get to meet up with Jeff again and have the heavenly equivalent of a McDonald's Coke. His treat this time, as I'm certain he's earned far more spiritual treasure than most of us.

Catch you on the flip side, Jeff!

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