Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV)
Liz and I came back home from a long trip, to find that the house was eerily still with a cold, vacant feel to it. Mom and dad were not there.
We set the house in order. Then I think I made some tea while Liz warmed up something for us to eat. After we ate, we sat in the living room, both of us feeling just like the house—silent and sad in the cold afternoon light of a cloudy November afternoon. Soon the door opened, and dad appeared. He looked haggard, and we were so aghast at his doleful air and the way he had aged at least twenty years since we had seen him that we failed to rise to go meet and greet him.
I don’t know how it came out, but he told us: They had had an accident on the 405. He had walked off fine with a few scratches—but mother. Mother had died.
The days after that were a blur. I know that Liz was the stronger of the two, and she had to be strong for the three of us. Father was worse than I’d ever seen him, racked with guilt because he’d been the one driving. I stayed outside of the house, walking around, mad with grief, mourning the death of my warm, beloved, joyful mother.
* * *
I woke up toward dawn. I wondered where I was. Had I not been sobbing in the stairwell of my house refusing the comfort of my distraught sister?
No. It had been a dream.
Praise God it was only a dream.
Involuntarily I began to sob in my pillow, first softly, but as my relief intensified with the conviction that my mother was, indeed, still alive, my cries only grew louder. This woke Lizzy up, and she was soon next to me soothing me and comforting me while running her little fingers through my hair.
After we prayed together and she went back to sleep, something told me to read back to what I had last read last night. I reached for my iPod, unlocked it, and saw that the last thing I read before drifting off to sleep had been the book of 1 Kings 17. Yesterday night I as I was drifting off to sleep I had been asking myself what new message—besides that of trusting God and having faith—could the story of Elijah and the widow have for me today.
I re-read the story of the widow. From the time Elijah finds her gathering sticks before cooking her last meal to when Elijah resurrects her dead son. The passage took new life—and I read these familiar passages it with new eyes.
I felt the widow’s grief; it was vivid, it was real. I could see her falling apart on the floor before Elijah, with her limp son in her arms. He had to wrest the body of the boy from her hands, because even so it was precious to her and all that remained in this world that was of any value. As she cried out to him, complaining why he had brought sorrow to the house, I knew that her throat was hurting, and the voice came out only with much, much effort, the way mine had done in my dream when I cried out to God to do something and save my mother. Finally, I lived first-hand the rush of relief, the overwhelming joy of the resurrection, when I woke and knew that my mother was alive, after all.
God condescended to answer my question in the most amazing and vivid way possible. It was clear and direct. I’ve never had such an experience, and I am humbled by it. Of course, daylight is trying to play off this lesson a bit. The terrors of the night seem to dim a little when the sun is out, but I will not forget. I cannot. I leave it here for you and for me.
Jesus is the life and resurrection. This holds such sweet hope to me for those dear ones that have gone before me—and who may go if he doesn’t return in my lifetime. I thank God that Jesus rose victorious because that means we can all have hope of life even after we die. Until this morning, I never was so thankful for it.
When I awoke again, the first thing I did was run to the kitchen where my mother was rushing about getting ready for work. In that fierce hug I prayed to God. I thanked him she was alive, that she was my mother, and prayed that he keep us all safe. I ask him now that though we have this sweet hope of life everlasting, that He will not tarry.
I don’t know if I could bear parting with my loved ones. So please. Please don’t make us wait any further.
Come, Lord Jesus.