We who have lost a loved one longs for that missing presence, and I believe God sends us comfort regarding our loved one. Several have told me stories of their after-experiences:
A child shared the comfort of a precious dream of a sibling who had died. In the dream she walked toward him smiling, healthy and whole, but curious at his sadness. She assured him that she was fine, that all was well, and when he said that their mother was devastated she appeared surprised and told him not to worry – that the mother also would be comforted.
Author friend Susan Mead, who experienced several losses in her family, wrote in her book Dance with Jesus – from Grief to Grace – how her dream of her son breakdancing with Jesus brought her peace.
Dimes – one mom asked her daughter to leave a dime so she would know of a visit and over a decade later she continues to find dimes in unexpected ways and in “weird places.”
Birds – several people claim that a visit from a cardinal is a sign from a loved one. A recently married couple –both widowed – have had multiple cardinal sightings. They find the birds to be a reminder to treasure life and to keep alive the memories of those who passed on.
I also had several experiences – one was the flute. Just before Christmas I was anticipating the difficulty of getting through our traditional music time as our daughter Laurie played the flute, son the guitar and daughter-in-law the piano. I dropped off a young lady to an appointment at the hospital, promising to wait for her in the foyer after I parked the car. A short handsome African man appeared from between cars in the parking lot, and walked alongside me, asking how we kept warm in WI.
He was here from Florida to see his mother who had depression as her third son had died. I sympathized and explained I’d also recently lost a child and before that a grandchild. I carry a card our grandson requested before he died, with his spiritual journey. I offered the fellow one, and He commented that David was a spiritual man and said he and his mother both were spiritual too. We then parted and I’d sat to wait when he reappeared at my side saying, “I think you need a song today.” “A song?” I asked, and he pulled a wooden flute out of his jacket and played an old hymn. He seemed distressed when I began sobbing. I told him my daughter played the flute and I turned to get a Kleenex from my purse. When I looked up again, he was gone.
These unique experiences (a minute sampling) are comforting for the moment but what do we cling to the rest of the time? The important thing I believe all our stories is that they point to a scriptural truth in the story of Lazarus. (John chapter 11) Remember when Martha was telling Jesus that her brother would have lived if Jesus had come sooner? Jesus was trying to tell Martha that while her brother’s body had died, his soul still lived. Martha thought he referred to the body’s resurrection and Jesus told her “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”
Wow. Jesus acknowledged that our bodies die, but also challenged our understanding that our essence or soul never dies the way the body dies.
We have been given these words to be assured and certain that what God says in His Word is true. He says
He is not the God of the dead but of the living
To die is gain (while we are in the body we can only walk by faith, not by sight)
Believing those words, it’s come to me anew that though her body is gone from me, my child is totally alive – more alive than I am as she is totally in His presence. Totally in His presence. Totally and fully alive.
In honor of those truths, and the scripture that says when we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord. Alive. I’ve evidence from my daughter’s life that she believed that and wanted me to fully grasp it as well. Thus my prayer, while I am still here is to be
Fully alive in Your Spirit,
Lord, make me fully alive.
Fully aware of Your presence, Lord,
Totally, fully alive.
Lyrics to Fully Alive by Bill Gaither
So glad the Lord can comfort you in these times. We’ve lost 5 members in our church in 2 months-with a congregation of less than 200. That’s why my friend needed me on Tuesday. She was very close friends with the latest home-going and it was a huge surprise to all of us.