“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There won't be any more death. There won't be any grief, crying, or pain.”
Seeing my grandparents here just a few short days ago, was moving. It touched a core of longing and sentiment in my heart I had long ago buried.
Perhaps it is missing them as I do, coupled with the built-in feeling of home and family that Christmas evokes.
But this time of year, it is not unusual at all to find myself caught up in memories of family and friends who have moved to their eternal destination.
Today it seems like most of those folks I love and miss have come to visit this baby-King. When I open the leather door on the fifth of December, I see a host of those folks. The first is a couple, much like my grandparents, who are kneeling in worship and I instantly know who this is.
It's my friend Terry who only recently moved on to Heaven. His beloved Mary is with him and he is wide eyed at the little baby. This is his first pilgrimage to the manger from his home in Heaven. He walks in with determined steps, the bent shuffle that Parkinson’s had left him is gone. Seeing the redemption story now -now that it is completed in his life- is overwhelming for him and he is instantly on his knees in worship.
Terry served this baby as a pastor for all his adult life. And he lived as one of the greatest examples of what this baby can do in a life that anyone has ever known. It is good to see him able to worship this baby again in a healthy body. His back is strong and his speech is clear. Mary kneels with him and together they adore this little child.
Their first Christmas together in many years. Mary went to heaven several years ahead of Terry and he longed for her during their separation. She is smiling and vocal, not silenced by the Parkinson’s that had affected them both.
They take a long and enjoyable time with this baby, giving him the love they held in their hearts for so long…and the love they will rain on Him for eternity. There is no hurry to leave and there is feeling of time passing. They spent their lives in service to this child, and they had seen all that His touch could do in their lives and in the lives of thousands of people whom they ministered to. Now it was just Terry and Mary again, worshipping the Christ child as they did when they first began their life together.
They were like parents to me, and I wish I could stop time and spend it in this moment, watching my two dear friends in their completed faith, but time will not permit. After a while, Terry and Mary leave the cave and I see some other folks entering.
All night tonight there will be other visitors. People from my past. People who have gone on before and who return and who are still very much alive in my heart and in this world because of the life and eventual death of this tiny baby. They live on in another realm, in the presence of God. But this baby has taught me that the distance between them and us is not far at all, it is merely a heartbeat away.
They come from all over heaven, to see the work of redemption. For us it begins here with this baby, but for them they are seeing it's amazing, loving completion and their perspective is unique in ways I don't have words to describe.
They were lost and wandering once, at this same stable and it was here they met this child-King. Now they return to see Him again. Only their worship and praise is different because they are complete. The work is done in their earthly lives. But still they come to the stable...no longer wandering, but just as moved and just as in awe, and just as full of worship as they were on that first trip here. Here in this dark cave, and this straw-filled feed trough...and this little pauper-prince.
"Do you who live in Heaven, hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth? Who are afraid of being left by those we love…and who get hardened by the hurt."-Rich Mullins "Hard to Get"