On this day six years ago, my dad died of malignant melanoma. I miss him, but I’m okay.
Mostly I miss him in unexpected moments throughout the year. Like when I hear Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (his favorite) or some jazz music. Or when I visit the firehouse with my daughter on a field trip (he was a firefighter). When I see a really good drummer (my dad was the best) or watch the military band concerts on evenings in the summer (he was an Army musician).
I miss him when we look through pictures and my daughters ask me all about him. I’m sad because the last year of his life, he was so sick and really didn’t look the way I remember him best. Those pictures are strange distortions of someone I knew and loved.
I miss him, but I’m okay.
Up until that moment, I had believed in heaven. I heard the stories in Sunday School and saw the pictures in my Beginner’s Bible as a kid. We sang songs at church about heaven and I believed what I sang.
But, when my dad died, heaven was suddenly real. Not some hazy and nebulous concept we teach at church, but a real place where my dad now lived. The outer shell that we buried in that casket was most definitely not him anymore. Suddenly, when I envisioned what heaven would be like, I personally knew someone who was there–a face in the crowd that was waiting expectantly for me to join him.
My mom chose this verse for my dad’s funeral bulletin:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV).
For the first time, God taught me how to have an eternal perspective. I had a friend in college whose mother had a degenerative disease and was ever so slowly worsening. It was difficult and devastating, but I have never in my life met anyone whose eyes were more firmly fixed on heaven than my friend. She saw heaven as the soon-to-be home for her mom—a place where her mom would be healed and whole and hurting no longer. She would talk about heaven in casual conversation and she didn’t care about earthly possessions, worldly success, or what other people thought of her. Instead, her eyes were fixed on the unseen and the eternal.
I forget sometimes to keep an eternal perspective and then God nudges my heart and holds the kaleidoscope back up for me to see the pattern of beauty He created in the light of eternal hope.
I get angry about something stupid and forget that little petty annoyances mean nothing in the end. I worry and fret about the small details of my life and forget that in the grand scheme of things, they really don’t matter. I long for a bigger home or at least new carpeting and forget that this world really isn’t my home and what I have here isn’t going to last.
Chris Tiegreen wrote:
When your feet are planted in heaven, you can quit chasing status in this world. You can live with a godly sense of abandon because you aren’t attached to possessions or even your own life. You can take risks, although nothing God calls us to do is really risky by eternal definitions. You can follow Him without fear.
The other day I took my daughters to a festival we have in our town. We toured the booths, saw some skits, watched the parade and then headed home. When she got to the car and realized we weren’t paying $5 per child for a 2-minute pony ride, my daughter bawled. She cried most of the way home, saying, “You don’t understand me or what I like and what is important to me. You never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give me the things I want. I’m not going to eat or clean my room or do anything at all until you take me back to ride the horses.”
We arrived home and she sat in time-out. I checked my emails and other messages and found an updated post for the little girl named Kate McRae that I’ve been praying for. She’s seven years old. She has metastatic brain cancer.
My daughter climbed into my lap, face still a little red from tears, and asked me about the little girl whose picture was now on my computer screen. I told her all about Kate. How she’ll be losing her hair because of the treatments she has to have. How she has to take medicine that makes her terribly sick so she can’t eat. How she can’t be with her brother and sister and can’t go to school. How she has to live far from home and stay in a hospital. How her body is weakened by the radiation treatments to her brain.
Pony rides didn’t seem so important anymore. God turned the kaleidoscope and changed my daughter’s heart by revealing a new perspective, an eternal one.
Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:17-21, NIV).
How would your life change if you lived as a citizen of heaven in the here and now of earth?
Would you be more bold in your faith? Invest more time in worship and prayer? Build into your relationships more? Whine less about the things you have or don’t have? Abandon the pursuit of earthly status in order to gain heavenly reward? Spend less time worrying about the things you can’t control? Love people more and be willing to overlook more of their faults? Be more thankful? Enjoy the little blessings in life?
So much of my attitude about life, so many of my everyday reactions are tainted because I lose that eternal perspective. That’s why I need reminders like today. Reminders that “this world is not my home; I’m just passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.”
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King