Staring out my living room window, I see a vibrant mix of magenta and green. The buds on my crab apple trees are bursting open to reveal delicate pink petals that wave and flutter gently with the breeze. It’s a beautiful picture that dares me to believe that spring has finally sprung in Minnesota.
I love this time of year. Spring is a season that points to the promise of new life. It reminds me that no matter how cold, dark, and bitter the winter may have been… there is warmth and new beginnings just around the corner.
This past weekend I had the honor of speaking at a memorial service for a woman who was not only a wonderful friend, but also a spiritual mentor in my life. She was someone who always encouraged me to be the best that I could be. She consistently challenged me to think deeply and respectfully about the theological and social issues of the day. Although we didn’t always agree on every issue, I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher.
I know that I am a better person and pastor because of her influence.
The memorial service stirred up a variety of emotions in my heart and mind. Obviously, I felt sadness as the details of her short and grim battle with lung cancer was described. It was difficult to see the pain on her family and friends’ faces, as together we all grappled with the reality that someone very special is gone. It seems as if she left this world much too soon.
Yet, along with the sadness, there was also much joy and laughter. Laughter, as we recounted the many ways that she had brought mischief, fun, and excitement into the moments that she was a part of. Joy, as we remembered the many ministries she served in, and the way she touched countless lives with her love, wisdom, and encouragement.
Death is such a curious thing. It feels so forbidding and final. We know that at some point every person will succumb to it, but we try our hardest to delay that day.
I’m no different from anyone else. I want to enjoy my time on earth for as long as I possibly can. And yet, as a Christian, I know that when this life is over… it is NOT the end.
The final emotion I experienced at the memorial service this weekend was hope.
You see, I have complete confidence that I will see my dear friend again. She was a woman who loved, and was loved, by Jesus.
Yes, she had to walk through her own cold, dark, bitter winter season. A diagnosis that was sudden and unexpected. A journey with cancer that was both brief and brutal. A rollercoaster of real and raw emotions… but in the end there was peace.
As I watch the beautiful pink blossoms bob and sway in the wind, I can’t help but smile. Winter is gone and spring has come. New life HAS begun.
I can’t be certain, but if I had to guess, I bet heaven is full of blossoming trees.
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;” John 11:25
“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.…” John 14:2-3