by Mike Dennis
April 13, 2017
This time next week, I’ll be somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, experiencing the first week of sabbatical leave. My church has graciously extended a time for resting and refreshing. While I’m a little anxious about being away, I am looking forward to it. And I’m already looking forward to coming back to my wonderful church family, too! When you know you’re coming back, it isn’t “goodbye”, but “see you later”.
One of the people I’ll be spending some time with is my 99-year-old mom. Last week, her Doctor recommended that she be placed under hospice care as her congestive heart failure and cervical cancer are beginning to take their final toll. He said, “we’ve done all we can do for her”. That means that every minute with her is more precious now.
At 99, mother is amazingly lucid and her memory is phenomenal. She recalls stories and names of people from long ago, and tells a joke or two. She still tries to pray over her prayer list that has grown pretty lengthy over time. She prays and praises, always giving God glory. Last week when I visited, she had a seasoned nurse crying as she held her hand kissing it and told her that she is praying for her and that she loves her. That’s my mom! When I leave, I always kiss her, sometimes several times while gently hugging her fragile little frame, and as I walk slowly toward her door I’ll say, “see you later, momma”.
Before moving to the assisted living facility, she lived with my brother Marty and his wife, Carrie. One evening they overheard her praying. As she is nearly deaf, I don’t think she realized how loudly she was talking to Jesus. They heard her say, “Jesus, I’m ready to come home. I’m tired and don’t want to be here anymore.” My brother and his wife and son treated her wonderfully, and she wasn’t saying she was unhappy with them. By “home“, she meant “heaven“.
Why does Easter matter? Because it is the difference between, “goodbye” and “see you later“. When Jesus broke the bonds of death, he pioneered the way for all of his followers to do the same. He made graves temporary and heaven eternal. Easter means that when Mom’s time comes, we can say “see you later, mom”. Jesus was “the first born from the dead” (Rev. 1:5), meaning that he has many younger brothers and sisters. Mom is one. So am I.
When Jesus broke the bonds of death, he pioneered the way for all of his followers to do the same.
My siblings group-text back and forth almost every day. Earlier this morning, my brother Larry wrote, “She will be joining Dad, soon. He will be waiting for her at the gate“. For some this seems a fools dream. But for us who know Christ, it is our enduring hope. We don’t say “goodbye”, but “see you later”. He is risen. He is risen indeed! See you later.