Wednesday, February 19, 2014

From the Smallest Seed: Lessons from Warren, Post 2

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. O Lord, come back to us!
How long will you delay? Take pity on your servants! Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love,
so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good.”
-Psalm 90:12 

Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers on February 8th.  We had a very special family day, complete with a lunch out to the Waffle House and a late afternoon walk at the river.  Two outings with 3 little boys and no meltdowns, a blessed day indeed! 

So, why do we talk about our son, Warren, five years later?  Out of guilt, as though we would be failing him if we didn’t bring up his name?  Certainly not.  In order to make you feel sad or uncomfortable?  No, no, no!  In stark contrast, we talk about our dear son out of love, out of our desire to share him with you and to tell his sweet story.  A mother can never forget her baby. But more than that, Warren’s story actually brings us life.  And is this not the Gospel, but life springing from death? 

Through John, and now through Daniel and Andrew as well, we keep a foot firmly planted on this earth. However, it is through Warren that we have a foot resting in heaven… or more accurately springing toward heaven, as each day brings us closer to that reality. When part of your heart and mind, your very DNA, are in heaven, the hope of heaven becomes very real. It becomes necessary.  More than ever, it matters that our true citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). 

As a dear and much wiser friend once shared with us a year or two after our son passed, this life simply does not make sense apart from the eternal reality. Warren’s life, his true life in heaven, speaks to that more than anything else in our lives.  He reminds me of the heaven-focus we all need to possess and carry with us as we go about our daily tasks.  With eyes fixed on our true, ultimate home in heaven with the Lord, we are freed up to embrace this life on earth.  We no longer expect it to be everything we long for and desire…. for we know that will come when we get to heaven.  But while we are here, our job is to seek Jesus and walk in the good works He prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10).  In this, we are given the gift of participating in His redemptive works that point toward heaven when all will fully and finally be made new.  As Paul expertly explains, “To live is Christ, but to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

At times on this earth, we must bury what we most hold dear. We had to bury our firstborn son, and John had to bury his twin brother. Many of you have had to bury loved ones.  Others have had to bury dreams, careers, or the way you expected your lives to turn out.  I don’t claim to know why this is, and I certainly do not diminish the pain involved.  However, I do know where we must place our hope in light of these losses, the only thing that carries us through… that with Jesus, death does not have the final say.  In fact, with Jesus, life always comes from death. For the joy set before Him, Christ endured the cross (Heb. 12:2).  He had joy in store, eternal life with the Father, despite the certain death He faced.  Moreover, He had eternal, true life to give each one of us in the wake of His tragic death.  Through His death, we are promised life beyond this broken world… life beyond the crushing blows we face.

In Warren’s brief life, then, we see a microcosm of the Gospel. Since his death, I have been captivated by Jesus’ words in John 12:24: “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”  In one of his letters to the church in Corinth, Paul adds, “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies” (1 Corinthians 15: 36). From the smallest seeds, seemingly lifeless and forgotten in the ground, new life begins again.  Warren is our sacred planting; we share him with you in hopes you see his life as a display of the Lord’s favor (Isaiah 61:3).  Our hearts still break, yet we sing Warren's song, praying his tune breathes promise into your dead and hopeless places as it has ours.  Sometimes we are given the seemingly impossible task of burying our dreams, sowing with countless tears the seeds we most hold dear.  But with the hope of Christ, they can burst forth and grow, yielding the greater dream of an eternal perspective.  A dream that always comes true.

“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive…
The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable...
‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’"
-1 Corinthians 15: 22, 42, 54-55
"For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations."
-Isaiah 61:11

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