The only scars in Heaven …

But Jesus stands with us  February 5, 2022

John 20:24-28 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

A surprising thing happened as Dave and I listened to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in E minor this morning, as we always do on February 5th. I lit several candles, thinking not only of Karis but of Mary and so many other beloved friends who joined the company of Heaven this last year. The flame of one of the candles danced wildly the entire time, while the other flames held steady. I wish you could have seen it! What a gift, bringing smiles to our lips and joy to our hearts.

We also listened to “The Only Scars in Heaven” by Casting Crowns, a wonderful tribute to the One who bore our sin and our sorrow so we could be healed. The lyrics are there, but I suggest the second time you close your eyes and imagine the joy and peace our loved ones enjoy in his presence.

One day we too will dance and celebrate with them. No more tears. No more sorrow.

She’s free now. Hallelujah!

But God compels

1 Corinthians 9:16-17, 26 Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News! I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust…I run with purpose in every step.

Paul was compelled to preach. I feel compelled to write. What sacred trust has God given you?

“This one’s a fighter.” The veteran nurse smiled back as Karis gurgled and grinned, enjoying her bath. “That’s why she’s still alive, not all this paraphernalia. I’ve not known another baby so passionate to live. Don’t lose sight of HER in the middle of all this medical stuff.”

The nurse showed me how to navigate with soap and water between and around the ileostomy on her Karis’s tiny tummy, the Broviac catheter coiled on her chest, the naso-gastric tube emerging from her nose and taped to her cheek.

Hiding most of this under a frilly dress, and taping a matching bow to her bald head, the nurse said, “Go home to your little son. He needs you too.” She settled Karis into a stroller, grasping her IV pole with one practiced hand. “I’ll take Karis around with me to cheer up the other patients.”

At PACA, her school in Brazil, her shirt covering the central line through which she was fed every night.

LIFE in capital letters compelled Karis. On her birthday yesterday, I reflected on how apparent this was even at a few weeks old. And how her bright smile continued cheering others for the next thirty years, years the doctors told us she would never live. “Unplug everything and let her die now,” they told us. “That’s the merciful thing to do for her.”

No. God knew we needed her smile, even through the tough times and the pain. Her zest for life invigorated us. Again and again after that first time, God’s restoring touch reached down to meet her heart’s thirst for more, more of this life, more time with her Beloved, as she called those she loved (virtually everyone who crossed her path). Until finally, she said, “Father, take me Home.”

And now she is truly living LIFE. I imagine her joy and enthusiasm infecting everyone in Heaven as she welcomes more of the Beloved into her Father’s home through these Covid months. Crooning cradle songs in Portuguese over more than two thousand babies dead from Covid in Brazil, but growing up now well and strong. I see her delighting in Jane Pool’s stories and finding just the right shade to paint our dear Alicia Helmick’s nails, wearing one of a collection of brightly-colored shirts saying “Been there. Got the T-shirt.”

Comforting the hundreds of pastors from across Latin America taken as they steadfastly cared for their people: the Good Shepherd will raise up others to love their congregations and their families. Listening intently as those who found life too hard on Earth pour out their stories and find healing in the presence of the Lord . . .

She’s busy. She’s well and strong. Happy. Thrilled with LIFE.

And I miss her.