I was reflecting this morning back to the day we celebrated my paternal grandfather’s graduation to heaven.
To start, my family didn’t frame it that way – death and eternity and a crown of glory sitting with Jesus was not the filter through which I was raised to process such things. We held a funeral; a sad affair where we all gathered in the small chapel to sing Amazing Grace and somberly recite some verses about eternity. Afterwards, we all retired to the even smaller reception area downstairs where the adults quietly ate and whispered amongst themselves, giving guard to their tones, as to not sound too joyful to see one another at such a devastating occasion.
Meanwhile, my siblings and I awkwardly answered obligatory questions and shared bits of our lives with perfect strangers.
Struggling to know how to carry the weight of my own grief, I walked back up to the sanctuary alone. I remember feeling like I was breaking some sort of rule, but reasoned with myself that God wouldn’t mind.
The sun shone brightly through the beautifully framed windows, and I remember feeling a wave of comfort wash over me. It was quite unlike anything I had experienced up to that point in my fourteen-year-old life. To be honest, I am not certain if the window panes were stained glass, or merely colored by the rays of sun, but I remember gold and orange, a filtered air and quiet blanket over my senses.
God came to sit with me. And the moment passed.
Heading back downstairs was nearly unbearable. It was grey down there. The sunlight couldn’t reach the windows in that daylight basement, and I took a deep breath as I made my way back into the life I knew.
Back to little hope. Little faith. No joy.
As an adult, I am working through the revelation that the filter we choose through which to navigate life is far more important than life itself. Truth be told, I have walked through more things than many people I know, and I have come out on the other side (mostly) better than when I went in. Stronger. Wiser. More hopeful. Not because I am better or more equipped, but because I choose to process each season and event through a lens of faith. I truly believe that ultimately, my God is in control, and that even when my free will, or the free will of others, imposes seemingly insurmountable challenge upon my life, that He can, and WILL, bring about something good from it.
Even, if the only thing that changes is me.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. – Isaiah 9:2
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4
To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace. – Luke 1:79