I hadn’t stepped my foot in a gift shop for quite some time. Since we sold the farm two years ago, I’ve been reducing, simplifying, and even changing my decorating style.
But, back in the process – again – of house shopping, and gathering info for the banker to secure us a mortgage, I needed to wait around in town for him to find a lost file.
So I stepped into the overstocked shop with no agenda but to browse.
And there they were, the man-gifts. Mugs, wallet-boxes and framed prints displaying rifles, deer with large antlers, and ducks. For the hunter in your life.
Fond thoughts of Dad instantly filled my heart, and just as quickly the reminder, “he is gone.” The cloudy sorrow-feeling settled in my heart like those eclipsing the sunshine that morning, a blanket of dark on the already colorless landscape.
Soon after, as I followed the path past shelves of mugs, walls of scarves, gloves, serving dishes, and seasonal floral, I came to the baby section.
Theodore would be making his arrival any time now, had the Lord allowed him to stay safely tucked in. But we had all said goodbye back in August, and the little cloud of sorrow grew as I processed in a nano-second, all that was not going to be in the coming holiday celebrations.
And the pain of the others who have suffered the same. My mom. My siblings. My kids.
I turned my mind to thanks. I knew I must; I did not, by any means want to leave the shop with red eyes and black streaks running down my cheeks. But still, sorrow lingered.
Later, at home in my own space, I processed the string of losses with the Lord. I re-surrendered my desire for things to be heaven-like here. I reminded myself of the truth of the old hymn. This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.
Then I sang the lyrics that struck me one Sunday morning . . . “Bless the Lord, O my soul . . . Ten Thousand Years and THEN FOREVERMORE.”
The words stunned me. Who can conceive of even a thousand years, much less TEN thousand . . . and THEN . . . forevermore. [?]
This is the way Jesus calls us to live. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
This is the way to balance sorrow. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16
So, I allow myself to grieve. I thank Jesus for the years and reminders of my dad. I praise Him that we will know Theodore on the other side into forever.
This broken world will afford each of us many losses, but when we trust Jesus, we find the sweet promises of God to bring us out into the spacious place of hope and anticipation. God never asks us to give something up without a promise to give us more.
And along with the promise, there is the blessed gift of remembering that this world is not our home. So I can find joy in every day of this life because of this I know: The Presence of God, which never leaves us alone here, will welcome us all who love Him HOME for the great Wedding banquet on the Day of celebration at the start of forevermore.
I drove myself to the Thanksgiving Eve service last night. Upon entering, I was met by about eight men standing in a semi-circle. I’d worn my “Boyfriend jeans” from H&M. Holes above the knees, fraying.
“Would you like us to take up a collection for you to buy yourself some new pants?” said one of the men.
“Sure!” I said, taking his jesting lightly.
And as I walked away, I smiled at God because only He knew how that would stir up fond memories of my dad. His teasing always brought me smiles, and those memories still do.
Maybe you too are facing empty place-settings at your holiday table, I pray you will find comfort in the hope and promises of banqueting together in eternal glory on that Great Day.
Happy Thanksgiving Family and Friends!