Today I attended a class reunion of sorts; actually a picnic. There were were a number of 50-somethings that I have not seen since we were teenagers. Sure, there are those that have lost hair, gained weight and added a few wrinkles. But there are other changes too. Some have really grown up, are well educated, socially engaging and a few have become Christians. Sadly, and somewhat disturbing, some have gone the way of addiction.
I was thinking, what was this person really like then, and are they the same now? Most were older versions of the previous "model." For others, the changes seemed so drastic, only a thread of the original seemed to remain.
The passage of time only makes me ponder all the things that I wish someone had told me long ago, and helped me learn. Here I sit at the half-century mark, and finally feel like I have enough wisdom to give life a go-- yet the energy to run out there and turn the world upside down is pretty much gone. Oh well, it's water over the dam. I remember my dad had so very few tools in life, and no faith until the very end. I also thought of the guys and gals that I graduated high school with that have died -- mostly of cancer -- but they are gone.
As my body enjoys flexing less and sleeping more, my spirit longs for a drink of His spirit like a deer pants for water. My mind, however; minus a few forgetful moments, seems pretty well off. Have you thought about what makes a person a person? Is it their voice, there personality, the memories in their brain or their body? I mean even as folks age, you can see the resemblance of a younger face. Some minds seem to be sharp throughout a lifetime. My mother was like that until her last breath. My father on the other hand, had brain cancer and reached a point where he didn't even recognize his own family. Another relative had a brain injury in a car accident. What will they be like in their resurrected and healed bodies? They never seemed to be themselves after the injury and sickness.
There are loads of Bible versus that speak of our mortal bodies and eternal spirits. There are those that elude to our existence in Heaven after this life. Although, the details of eternity we pretty much have to take on faith. It seems a mystery, yet according to Paul, the mystery of salvation has been revealed. Paul was a much deeper thinker then I am.
In the end, what will it be like? The Bible says that for those that have not received Christ there will be a judgment-- and accounting of sin. As some vignettes of our life have faded, others where we have done wrong, have not. Even a few minutes pondering those things that I have said and done which I wish I hadn't, sort of make me feel ashamed even now. As I mediate on the good things that I have accomplished since I stepped into the Light, the sin nature is ever present to rear its ugly head. But who really wants to think about Heaven and Hell? Does it matter what we did as a teen as long as today we are helping others and doing good things? Has God forgotten about and abortion, or a robbery?
The age old questions still remain, who are we? Why are we here? And how does God see us?
I want to share a simple story. The very last time I saw my father before his death in February of 1998, I drove to Vermont to be with him. I took my two oldest daughters and we spent part of the day at his house. I just wanted to be in his presence, and while I was there, I thought about our history together-- some of which was not all that great. Just a few months before, we had lunch together on the Hyannis docks. He never let on that he know he was going to die. It was a good week that we spent that November, and I enjoyed him very much. But this day, it was to be one of his last two. The girls and I prayed for him, and I asked God to let him understand the words that I wanted to speak to him; words of my love and forgiveness, blessing for his journey from this life into the next and for him to understand the love the girls had too. The presence of God descended.
My father came out of his brain cancer fog, and said, "Zöe and Erin, I am so glad you are here. I love you girls." They stood back for a moment and rushed to hug and kiss him. Then he said, "son, I love you too."
I kissed him on the forehead and said, "I love you too, Dad." Those were our last words together.
That was the real dad, I know it. And because he ended the race with faith, I am looking forward to being with him for eternity.
There is something I discussed with my daughter on the way home from the reunion picnic, and that was the fact that Jesus has given me something wonderful--I have changed.