May 20, 2016

Deception and Stolen Joy

This week has been long. And extremely hard.

I got Kevin's death certificates this week and everything suddenly felt so much more final. A sweet friend was in the hospital with her husband in the midst of a scary, scary situation. The to-do list before we head off for time with friends and Kevin's family seems to get bigger and bigger while the time to do it gets shorter and shorter. I filmed a testimony to share with my church family and the Lord had me live every.hard.word of it the day I filmed it. A hard anniversary for precious friends loomed closer and closer. Nothing this week was simple, easy, or just pure fun.

And Satan took full advantage of it this week. I struggled this week in a way that caught me off guard and left me speechless and somewhat numb most of the week. There's a truth that I've known for some time, but it never really seemed to affect me, so I tucked it away in the back of my mind and forgot about it. It felt like something that would never affect me so I didn't really need it, right?

That truth? We won't be married to our earthly spouses in heaven. What we have here on earth, that's it. There's a reason our vows say, "Til death do us part." I admit, I am no expert on heaven. In fact, I still feel a little afraid of that moment when my eyes open and there I am, in Christ's presence, eternally (not afraid of how I'll get there, just afraid of being there. There's so much I don't know or understand. So much I can't control that it's a bit scary to me.) But I know that we will not be married or given in marriage. Until this week, that truth had no affect on me. But this week, it hit me hard. And Satan used it to deceive me and steal my joy.

I was overwhelmed that, though I will recognize Kevin when I see him in heaven, there won't be the joyous reunion of husband and wife. There won't be walks along the crystal sea, hand in hand, enjoying the beauty around us, like we we would have here on earth. There won't be  a moment of seeing my groom, him seeing his bride, and beaming with joy that we are together again, husband and wife. Satan then planted the thought in my head, "Then how will there be joy there? What will there be to rejoice in if not in being reunited with my husband?" That thought removed any joy or excitement, little though it may have been, from the idea of heaven. Satan had me deceived and was robbing me of joy and hope in this magnificent place the Lord is preparing for us.

I am so thankful the Lord did not leave me in that place for long. Yes, He let me wrestle and cry it out for a bit, but, as He always does, He came in and whispered much needed truth to my soul. True, Kevin and I will not be husband and wife in heaven, because God has something better. The marriage of Christ with His church (that's us!) Our marriage here on earth was but a faint picture of the marriage we will experience with Him. There will be no lows, no sad moments, no fights, no arguments, only love, joy, peace. All the good things. Kevin and I will share that. We will share that with our kids (I hope with all my heart the Lord will bring salvation to them!) That will be deeper and more joyful than any marriage here on earth, even the precious one I shared with my beloved these last 13 years.

Even more than that, I was reminded that the joy of heaven isn't in being reunited with loved ones. It isn't in seeing our Bible heroes up close. It isn't in the beauty we will see or the magnificence of walking on streets of gold. It's in being with our Savior, as we were always meant to be. It's in seeing Christ and spending an eternity worshiping Him, as we were always meant to be. It's in no more pain, tears, sorrow, grief, or sin. For all eternity. Admittedly, while that brings much joy, it also bring a little fear because I just can't fathom a life that beautiful. That joyful. That peaceful. That perfect.

Satan convinced me to think of heaven in earthly terms. In the earthly things that won't be in heaven. But, sweet friends, when we think of heaven in earthly terms our thinking is marred, short-sighted, and just plain missing the mark. Our earthly minds can never fathom heaven in its fullest because we've never known life on this planet without pain and grief and tears and sin. It's so easy to think of all we'll miss on earth while in heaven (graduations, weddings, smiles, movie nights, all the big milestones), but heaven offers so much more than anything this earth and this earthly life offers.

Oh, Father, give me right thinking about heaven. Give me joy and passion and excitement for heaven, not because I'll see Kevin again, but because I will be with You. Remind me heaven is not about me. It's not about Kevin. It's not about anyone else that has gone before, but it's about You. I don't think I'll ever fully grasp it here on earth, but I know You can instill in me a loving desire and joy as I look ahead to entering those gates and worshiping You for all eternity. Fill my children with a longing for heaven, not because they want to see Daddy again, but because they love You and want to spend eternity with You. Let today be the day of salvation for my children. Set eternity in all our hearts, with much joyful anticipation. Teach us how to live here in such a way that points others to You and displays a joyful excitement for the life to come.

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