My mother-in-law passed away this past October.  It was a very unsettling time for my family, and it left us reeling and searching for a foothold on a path that had suddenly started to shift.  She was in her seventies and had been in and out of the hospital several times during the past few years.  We thought that this time would be the same as the others, a week’s stay and then back home to normal life.  But this hospital visit turned out to be the last one, and the clock that kept track of her allotted time on this earth had run out of hours, minutes, and seconds.

Sadness descended on us during that time and along with the aftershock came the onslaught of a million things that suddenly demanded our attention and had to be attended to.  Decisions required answers and pieces had to be picked up and put back into order.  Life continued to march forward and it insisted that we keep pace.

But in all of the confusion and disarray, one thing was not lost: hope.  An emptiness was felt.  Regret threw in its two cents every chance it got.  There was crying and wishing for just one more hour of opportunity.  But through all of the fog and darkness, hope had not abandoned us.  Although my mother-in-law was no longer with us physically, we knew where her sudden journey had taken here.  She had gone home.  She was in the presence of her Heavenly Father and He had welcomed her the very moment that she left this world.

It is a sobering thing to realize that just like this life has a beginning, it also has an end.  Time can seem as if it will go on forever.  We think that there is a never-ending supply, and if we’re not careful we take for granted the days, weeks, and months that keep slipping by.  It is shocking when that illusion is broken and we come face-to-face with the harsh reality that the days that we are given have a limited number.

What can produce hope during the devastating time of losing a loved one?  There is only one answer to that question.  The promise of a home waiting in Heaven depends entirely on what a person does with the offer that Jesus freely gives to anyone who will ask.  That offer is a relationship with God that transitions people off of a road that leads to eternity without God and places them firmly on the path that leads right up to the gates of Heaven.  On the day of a believer’s arrival in Heaven, the gates swing open wide, and waiting on the other side is a loving Heavenly Father who will welcome them home.  Hope came from knowing that my mother-in-law passed through those very gates recently because of her decision to reach out to the hand that offered eternal life in exchange for her complete faith and trust.

The days and months that have followed my mother-in-law’s death have been a mix of both good and not-so-good.  Holidays and other special events have come and gone and her absence has been felt.  The entire family has had to step up and assist in helping my father-in-law realign and continue with his own journey.  But the same hope is still there.  It can be felt in moments of quiet and contemplation.  It makes itself known as we remember and laugh/cry about funny things that she said and did.  We know that she is very much alive and happy in the Father’s presence with other believers who have also crossed over into eternity.  But the best part for us is that we have the hope of seeing her again one day, and that time will be so much different from the last time we saw her alive.  It will not take place in a sterile hospital room with monitors endlessly beeping and flashing and doctors and nurses scurrying around.  It will be in Heaven, where there is no crying, sickness, or death.  What an incredible hope.

I Corinthians 15:54-55
John 14:1-2, 6
I Thessalonians 4:13-14
Revelation 21:4
Psalm 34:18

Do I fully appreciate the promise that I have of a home in Heaven someday?
Can I remember what it was like not to have this hope?
Who am I thinking of right now who needs to hear about the hope that Jesus offers to everyone?

Lord, help me to stay aware of the fact that I am moving step-by-step, day-by-day towards the heavenly home that you are preparing for me.  Thank you for the hope of eternal life that you have given.  Bring into my path someone who doesn’t have this hope and give me the courage to share the truth that I know.