The Mercy of Not Knowing

Occasionally I go through my blog drafts and pull from them. I found this one today and edited a few words. It was originally drafted in late May 2015 after my dad’s funeral, while we were packing to move to Texas, and in the fresh stages of grief.

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Death is the ultimate disruption. A friend warned me early on in this brain tumor journey with my dad that death is evil. It takes away life and it is shocking. It is disruptive.

The three month marker came and went 2 days ago. Three months since doctors diagnosed my father with an aggressive brain tumor. Three months they gave him to live. He enjoyed 2 months and a half. My father passed away, went to be with Jesus, breathed his last, died, May 9th.

It was the longest two and a half months of my life. Every day a constant checking, wondering, anxious watching for signs of the end, wanting to know the times. When? How long?

But, I didn’t really want to know. I know now and I can tilt my head in acknowledgement that God was…is…merciful. When I count what I saw as merciful, I ache for all the seemingly merciless deaths. It is not fair the father who loses his whole family. The parents that discover their teenage son without a breath left in him. The long, slow decline of Alzheimers or old age.

What do you do with all the grief?

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I chose this picture, taken in an urgent care office while waiting for a doctor, because it captures the soul of this post–relating to loss.

Mourning, for me, increases the emotional nerve endings to all the losses of life, all the griefs not ending with death alone. The marriages that struggle, the kids that hurt, the strife in relationships are all brought right up to the surface.

When will the suffering end?

Yet, when I think about my father and what knowing would bring to my life, I realize it was merciful to not know.

Now I’m left taking the next step, eating the next bite sized portion of life, packing just the next box for our move and it is right.

The Finding

We opened the door on Sunday morning, Palm Sunday morning, and brought in our newspaper. I noticed a toy store ad that is usually not included. As toy sales, spring dresses, and candy ads spread out in a pile on my floor, I realized Easter is a big deal in America.

I absorbed the message. Kids receive toys, new clothes, and fun on Easter. I didn’t know. My husband replied, wisely, that is what stores want me to think about Easter.

In the shadow of my father’s death, this treatment of Easter feels especially offensive. We are all placing more of our hope than ever before in what happened that weekend so long ago. If Christ was not raised, we are still in our sins. My dad is still in his sins. My dad is forever separated from God if Jesus was not raised. My dad is on his way to hell if Jesus was not raised.

But Jesus was raised. 37 years ago, my dad responded to the news and changed the course of his life and our family for eternity. One of the most influential books he read at the time was Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict.

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The cross at Kole Kole pass was removed in the 90’s. It stood on Schofield Barracks Army Base for decades after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Credit for this picture is: 1SG Gary Haynes at togetherweserved.com
It all happened in Hawaii. After my brother sustained a broken bone in a freak accident, my mother pushed a return to church. My dad complied. Then, he sought out the truth for himself.

One day, he came literally to the foot of the cross. A huge white cross used to stand in the valley where the Japanese planes flew to bomb Pearl Harbor. He ran to it and his soul cried out for more. It wasn’t long after that his soul was satisfied.

The Lord loves it when we come looking for Him.

Jesus is like my kids when they were young and we played hide-and-seek.. The goal of hide-and-seek was always for us to find them. Success was in the finding. Coughs, squeals, chirps erupted from their lips as we crept around “finding” them. We always knew where they were, but we played along.

Jesus’ wants us to find Him. He chirps through nature. He squeals through the Bible. He coughs through suffering meant to lead us to Himself. He longs to reveal Himself and there is great joy in the finding. Eternal joy in the finding.

As my dad suffers the effects of a growing cancer in his brain, he still rejoices in the moment of finding and being found.

When he told his story again a few weeks ago, we marveled at how little he really knew at the time. As one who has taught many the nuts and bolts of how to communicate what it means to trust Christ, it’s ironic how little he knew. He seemed only to know he needed to make a decision about following Jesus.

He decided. He found and He was found. The joy of Easter is that the finding lasts forever. The joy comes with being freer and freer and, then, finally, free.

There is some anger that is worth feeling about the Easter holiday these days. It’s worth letting sink in and disturb. Easter is more than amusement.

The ads get one part right, though. Easter is about new. It is about finding. It’s just that it’s about new life that lasts far longer and satisfies far more than a toy. And, it’s about a hunt that leads to more than a colorful, hard-boiled egg.