I have had the privilege recently of doing life with several friends as they escorted their parents to heaven’s gate. It is the season of life our age group is in, and I can tell you from our own experience with Bill’s mom a few years ago, it is a tough phase. Watching those you have long thought of as stronger than you, weaken before your very eyes is daunting. Sharing the journey with doctors, hospitals, labs, and insurance companies is exhausting. The general consensus among my friends is that old age sucks, and that a quick exit is preferred to a long drawn out decline. However, in every instance I have been amazed at the hand of God to restore broken things, before the last breath was released. If ever there was a doubt that healing of relationships is possible it has been dispelled as I have watched miracles happen…over and over again.
Every family has their demons. We all know how to push one another’s buttons, and which wounds are most tender. In the fading of life, those scars are either ripped open, or healed with the balm of Gilead. My eyes have seen the redemptive power of God move, as compassion rises above contempt. Caring covers condescension. Resentment flees the scene, and love…the hard won kind…rushes in. Beauty of such magnitude takes my breath away.
Sitting in the midst of suffering has a way of softening old hurts, and as much as we want the suffering to end, it serves its purpose. It draws the poison out of relationships and cleanses the toxins. All the past fades into the background as the present moment shows what is significant and what is not. Clarity brings forth forgiveness. Forgiveness gives birth to freedom. Freedom lightens the heart and conjures up the good, because mixed in with the bad, there is always some good that has been forgotten. Even time, when it is so very short, is redeemed and expanded to make up for years of distance and strain.
In each and every instance, I have watched God do his redemptive, restoring work for those who open their hearts to it and are willing to step into that sacred space. It is holy ground. It is a place where humility reigns, forgiveness blossoms, and respect takes precedence. The spirit of reconciliation hovers. Love is cultivated. In the midst of the dying, he breathes life into those places of the heart which need his touch, as only he can do, and the result is peace that passes understanding. The transition from this world to the next serves its purpose, and as the last exhale is released, God’s redemption takes fractured relationships and broken bodies and makes them whole in the spirit. The splendor of such quiet, holy moments is a beauty to behold. Heaven touches Earth, and in that space, the cross displays its power to redeem ALL things. The finished work of Christ is made manifest in such instances. The only response is awe, reverence, and a bowed knee in worship as redemption secretly wins the day.