Yesterday evening there was a beautiful sunset. And, as I drove I couldn't help thinking that he wasn't here to see it. He woke up yesterday morning expecting to see it, but at the end of the day he saw God's face instead. We never know. Each moment is a gift.
I was reading aloud from a science book with my two students following along, filling out their study guides, as I read when the phone rang. It was Erik, but it wasn't his usual voice, and I knew something was wrong. A friend of ours, a husband and father of 3, had been hit by a car, and Erik was asking me to pray hard. He said that Jason had a pulse but was unconscious, and that was all he knew. So, we stopped science and prayed right there at the school table. It wasn't long after that Erik called back to let me know he had passed, passed over, from life on earth to life in it's fullest sense, life with the Creator face to face.
You see, Jason was special. And, I know people always say that about people after they pass, but I would have said the same thing last week. He did great things. He was a teacher, a coach, a visionary, and a school administrator. He was a catalyst of positive change in the county school system. He made a difference. But, that is not why he was special. Lots of people are good teachers. Lots of people are good coaches. Lots of people are visionaries and administrators. He worked very hard, but lots of people do that. But, there was one thing that set him apart from about 98% of the rest of us living here on planet earth....
He did it with a smile, always a big old friendly smile. He was positive from the inside out, laid back and easy. Now most of us "happy people" are moody. And, most work horse administrators are hard on themselves and not always so fun to be around because they push themselves and others so hard. But, somehow his personality merged these two with the positive attributes of both. I don't remember ever seeing him without a smile and a laugh rolling off so many of his words. He was a special man. He was a faithful husband, a fun dad, and a great son ~ just ask Erik's nurse (Nana Kim). She is his mama. Say a prayer for them all if you will. I really cannot think of anyone else just like him. He will be missed by so many.
As I was straightening up yesterday evening, I was fighting back all the questions, the "why" kind of questions. And, then singing to me in the background was Christa Wells ~ "Glory to God. Glory to God. Fullness of wisdom. He writes His story into my song. My life for the glory of God." And, in that moment He reminded me gently that He is the fullness of wisdom. He knows all things, understands all things ~ things my finite mind can never grasp. And, all we can do is trust and walk on.
Earlier this week I read a biography of Augustine to my boys for their history class. So many things in this book touched me. But, one of the things that will stick with me for a long time is a legend of Augustine taking a walk along the beach. Augustine desperately wanted to understand God. He wanted to be able to grasp Him, but over and over He was unable to do so. Augustine was a learned man, very bright, but this he could not fathom, and so it bothered him, a constant nagging. He just couldn't let it go. He stood on the beach looking out at the waves rolling in, the vastness of the ocean. And as he stared, he cried out, "This is an image of the space in which my searching mind wanders and repeatedly gets lost. My spirit floats across the immeasurable surface of which it can see neither beginning nor end. Yet soon the bird returns to its nest as I must go home, weary with fatigue from thinking but never clearly understanding who and what God is!" And, as he stood there, he suddenly noticed a young boy playing near him without anyone looking after him. So, he walked up to the boy and asked the boy what he was doing. The boy answered simply...
"I have dug a hole and now I am going to put the whole ocean into it."
This made Augustine laugh. "Come now, do you really think you can put the whole ocean in this little hole?"
And, legend says that this little boy looked up at Augustine and said, "Do you really believe that your limited mind can ever understand the eternal God? How could you ever hope to transfer the eternal God to your small world of thought? You had better stop trying. It is all in vain. Go home, my lord bishop, learn to believe like a child and never seek understanding beyond that of which you are able!"
Sometimes it feels as if He dropped us here to journey this journey, we who are clay, made of earth. He dropped us here, with traces of the supernatural here and there... He has woven Himself into all existence. The eternal, mysteriously woven into the feeble broken fabric of flesh. He is a mystery our minds cannot wrap around. And, He weaves this mystery of Himself into all of our temporal life. The journey itself is paradox, a confusing, amazing, perplexing adventure. And, because we are flesh, we cannot completely grasp the depth and breadth of that which is spiritual.
As I stared deep into the sunset last night the word that I could not get out of my mind was "flesh." I never feel so mortal, so fragile as when I hear of someone my own age or younger dying. It is then that I must come face to face with the fact that every moment is a gift, and I do not know that when I hold Erik close before work, feel his soft breath in my ear, I do not know that it might be the last time... That holding his hand today is a gift, a true gift. Our bodies were made to be temporary. They will not last no matter how great our efforts to take care of them. Every body will eventually cease to work. We are flesh. But, the spirit, it is eternal. C.S. Lewis said that we should not say we have a soul. Instead we should say we are a soul ~ we have a body.
The spiritual woven into the flesh ~ the greatest mystery this earth will ever know.
Flesh on flesh, a mystery that connects souls. Some try to say it is just an act, but we know deep in our souls that it is spiritual, the uniting of the two, the two becoming one... one "flesh." We can't explain it. We can't see it with our eyes. But, at the same time we cannot deny it, there is something supernatural there. And, it is in this deep hidden place that the spiritual weaves within us and creates a soul. The spiritual intermingling with the flesh. The Creator weaving deep inside his creation in the secret places that we, made of flesh, know nothing about. And, for months we carry this mystery. The flesh fills and the skin stretches, a mystery woven within, deep below the skin's surface. We feel the flesh within us move and kick, and we marvel at the beauty of the mystery. Then, one day through pain, sweat, and tears, the flesh gives way through a gush of water and blood, and flesh gives birth to flesh. The moment the lungs fill with air, this moment, it is spiritual. Praise is on the tip of the tongue, because this, this engineering of a soul, this is far above the abilities of mere flesh. So, we are in awe of the Creator. But, no matter how much flesh cares for flesh, no matter how much flesh loves flesh, flesh is helpless to save flesh. It is only through the breathing of a prayer, that the Spirit enters the empty hollow of the walking dead, and fills the flesh full of life. And, the flesh walks born again. Except this time not born of water and blood, but born of the spirit. And, the mystery exudes imagination... Christ in us! The eternal living within the mortal! The Master Weaver has woven eternity into mortal flesh. And, one day, the flesh will die, and the spirit will live on. The flesh decays, the spirit soars...
And, what is a mystery to me is no longer a mystery to Jason because he sees Him face to face.
How great a God we have, Who stoops to look down upon us. Who wrapped Himself in our flesh, and then allowed his flesh to be torn for us.
Please keep our friends in your prayers.
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