November 6, 2013

It's Just Bones!

At a recent family funeral, I had the opportunity to share a couple of things I’ve learned from my children’s perspectives on life. Children have a precious ability to see clearly, react genuinely, and believe wholeheartedly. I thought it might be fitting to share a couple of little stories. May they bring you hope and comfort.

I am a firm believer in honest explanation when it comes to my children’s questions about life. So, when a couple of years ago, a conversation with my son brought up cemeteries, I tried my best to give him a comprehensible description of what they were. I described to my son that while the thinking, feeling, loving part of us goes to heaven when we die, our bodies stay behind. In our particular culture we bury that part in holes in the ground in a place called a cemetery or graveyard. Finished, I snuck a peek over to where he sat, to make sure he wasn’t disturbed by my explanation. On the contrary, his eyes were wide and utterly fascinated, and he eagerly asked me: “Mommy, can we go there?” Bewildered, I carefully replied, “Why do you want to go to a graveyard?” With the gleam of a budding paleontologist in his eye, and a big grin on his face he answered me: “So we can dig up the bones!”

It was a reasonable response from a boy who is into fossil-finding; and good for a chuckle. But after I explained to him that we could not, in fact, go digging in the cemetery, I got to thinking – he’s right. There is nothing distressing about a graveyard – because there are no people buried there, just bones. 

The second story I want to share with you occurred just a few days ago. When my three-year-old daughter heard the news that her Boo Opa (Great Grandpa) had passed away, her reaction was astounding. She literally thrust both fists into the air and danced around the living room singing “Yay, Boo Opa went to heaven. Now he can run and jump all by himself! And even do somersaults!” She enthusiastically mentions this a couple of times a day. She is excited. Her little face beams with happiness at the thought, like she has witnessed a miracle.

And that got me thinking too, because heaven should be a cause for great excitement. You know, paradise is a tricky word. It doesn’t work well on human terms; we all have different opinions of perfection. One person's idea of paradise could be another’s worst nightmare. But when Jesus, on the cross, offers paradise, he’s telling of a place so perfect that it fulfills the requirements of every Christian ever to go there, both in the past and in the future yet to come. And God’s paradise doesn’t merely fulfill our human perceptions – it overwhelms them entirely, blows them right out of the water.

He offers this destination to us. And if we choose to accept, we will find ourselves one day standing at the threshold of a mighty gate, staring into the unfiltered radiance of God’s glory. And perhaps, just perhaps, we will remember a lesson taught by two little children, and we will glance back and agree: "It’s just bones!" and then we will turn forward, pump a fist into the air with excitement and cheer: "Now, let’s celebrate!"

Heidi Stahl

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