One year ago last night I came home from the hospital without Jan. It had been the worst night of my life and for my family the date October 30 will be an anniversary date we do not look forward to remembering.
Around midnight that evening I picked up a Max Lucado devotional book Jan kept on a night stand next to her side of the bed. It was titled "Grace for the Moment" and was a book of both morning and evening readings for each day of the year. I was curious to see what she would have read that evening had she not died. I was also hopeful that it might be of some help to me.
The title for the evening reading of October 30 was "Life Is Long Enough" and was centered on Psalm 139:16: "All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old." Let me share with you what Lucado wrote:
No person lives one day more or less than God intends. "All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old."
But her days were so few...
His life was so brief...
To us it seems that way. We speak of a short life, but compared to eternity, who has a long one? A person's days on earth may appear as a drop in the ocean. Yours and mine may seem like a thimbleful. But compared to the Pacific of eternity, even the years of Methuselah filled no more than a glass...
In God's plan every life is long enough and every death is timely. And though you and I might wish for a longer life, God knows better.
Then Lucado asked two questions: How does this statement relate to your life? To the lives of the people you hold dear?
My response was GIVE ME A BREAK!! HOW DO YOU THINK IT RELATES TO ME?? HOW DO YOU THINK IT RELATES TO MY FAMILY?? I AM NOT HAPPY TO BE READING THIS...IN FACT I AM ANGRY AS I READ THIS...PLEASE DON'T GIVE ME SOME PIOUS GOD-TALK THAT SAYS JAN'S LIFE WAS LONG ENOUGH!! PLEASE DON'T THINK I AM GOING TO SIT DOWN WITH MY GRANDCHILDREN AND EXPLAIN TO THEM THAT AMMA LIVED LONG ENOUGH. MY RESPONSE TO THESE WORDS WAS "HOGWASH...BALONEY...GIVE ME A BREAK...I DON'T BUY IT!!!"
So for the last 12 months I have left that book open to October 30. Last night I sat down and read those words again and asked myself the question: "Do I now believe that every life is long enough?" My answer is still "no I don't". I have not come to any acceptance of what Lucado wrote. I know of noone in my family who would say that Jan lived long enough...of that I need to be convinced.
Then this morning I turned the page to October 31 where Lucado writes that Everyone Will See Him; which is a writing focused on John 14:8: "After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am." Yes...in the blink of an eye Christ will return. How does that affect the way you live? asks Lucado.
That is a question that is easy for me to answer. Let me share with you something I wrote for my grandchildren and had framed for them titled: "AMMA'S gLOVE".
A glove is an object that is always shaped like a hand. Each of us has a hand that looks different from the hand of other people and our hands will vary in size. When buying a glove we always look for one that will fit our hand size. If a glove is too big for our hand, then it will be loose and maybe fall off. If a glove is too small, then it will be tight and uncomfortable. What we look for is a glove that fits our hand perfectly and is comfortable to wear.
A glove is an object that can lie on a shelf or be put in the pocket of our coat and by itself will be lifeless and unable to do anything of value. It is only when we put our hand into a glove that it will be able to do things. It is the hand inside the glove that makes the glove move to shake hands, open a door, make a snowball, give someone a hug, wave goodbye, or tweak your nose. What the glove does will reflect the personality of the hand that is inside the glove.
Our body is like a glove. It was designed by God to fit perfectly around what is inside the body that we call our spirit, our soul, our personality, our mind. We all knew Amma by looking at her and listening to her voice. She had a big smile and loved to give hugs and was always so excited to be with you and she was always planning a party or a time for us to get together. She was warm and loving and what we saw was made possible by her spirit, her soul, her mind and her personality.
One day her spirit and her soul and her personality slipped out of her body and went to live in heaven with Jesus. A part of her body had stopped working and it would no longer work like it was supposed to work. We say that her body (glove) died and that made us very sad, because she is no longer here to give us hugs and make us happy. But her spirit and her soul and her personality did not die and that part of her is now in heaven. In heaven she is very happy and is waiting for us to come and join her at some time in the future.
The Amma we knew lived inside her body which was very much like a beautiful glove. So when you look at her glove, I want you to spell the word glove this way: gLOVE. The biggest part of that word is love and love is what Amma was all about. She loved you very much and she showed her love by the words she said, the hugs she gave you, the parties she planned, the meals she cooked and all the other things she did to say “I love you!” I want you to always remember Amma’s gLOVE.
Yes...I believe. I believe in a place called heaven. I believe in a place prepared for us. I believe in a place where we will be with Him. Yes...I believe. Do I believe that Jan lived long enough...no. Do I believe that eternity will be long enough...absolutely yes.
Today I affirm that it is a very good idea to turn the page and see what is next. On this morning I turn the page...the page that reads THE NEXT CHAPTER IN THE LIFE OF JOHN CARLSON. I do so with confidence becasue of the One in whom I believe.