I wish I was writing this from somewhere in South America. The story doesn't even begin there, though. I am well above the Mason-Dixon Line, in the heartland. It is here that my daughter and son-in-law live. And it is here that I experienced a level of pain I have never known.
Kory, my son-in-law, called me the evening of July 27th. His voice forbode bad news. My mind raced to all the possibilities as he asked me if I was alone, and as I closed the office door. I told him I was and he told me of the evening's events.
Michelle had laid her firstborn baby down for a nap at about 4:30. After some time she went in to check on little Grace, now just a week shy of 3 months. And there she lay, not breathing. As easily as you just read this e mail, in a matter of seconds, Grace departed from this world into the presence of God.
We were stunned. We wailed. We wept. We asked why. We walked in circles in the house. We held one another. We gripped ourselves, wrapping our arms around in a tight body hug, trying to keep our heart from exploding.
Pam, Melissa, and I were on a plane the next morning; we made it to Nebraska before midnight on the 28th. Our hearts felt like stones within us, but we did what we could to maintain our composure.
We buried our first grandchild a few days later.
The pain we felt from death's stinger is much abated now. It's still there, to be sure. There are still certain triggers that cause our emotions to overflow. But we do not dwell on the pain. We have a blessed hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I once heard of some heretic who went to a Southern Baptist seminary to speak. This pea-brained and dead-spirited man had the gumption to tell that crowd of men and women that he believed babies were divided into two classes. Should they die, one of those classes of babies goes on to heaven; the other goes to hell. The trouble with his shock theolodgy was, aside from the sheer madness of it, there were women and men present whose babies had died in the past few weeks and months. Those men and women had come to chapel for a fresh word of comfort; their hearts were wounded. And this foolish man was Satan's sharp sword to reopen those wounds.
I am far more Calvinistic in my theology than I am anything else. But God help the man who looks me in the face and tells me my 3-month-old granddaughter (or anyone else's) is burning in hell! There is enough pain in death without such heresy being spewed onto wounded spirits.
Life moves on. We are learning to enjoy the sunsets again. We are learning that pain is lessened by "group hugs." We are learning that resting in Jesus is the only sure way to make it through a time like this. We are learning that we have more friends than you can shake the proverbial stick at. We are learning that Jesus also shares his love with us through their love. We are learning the importance of faith, of walking in the Spirit (before calamity comes), and of the power of prayer.
Above all, we are learning that the sharpest part of the spear on death's shaft went into God's heart. We feel a small part of the sting Jesus felt for us. By faith we await the day we will walk the roads of heaven, hand in hand with Grace Elizabeth. Until that day, we let the Holy Spirit rub our hearts with the healing balm he carries in his hand.