More Than a Sunset

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Photo by Katy Crist: Ethiopia

As a collector of knowledge there are few things in life that break me more than the questions I ask that no one can answer. I drove my Sunday school leaders crazy when I was a child. So many,

“why’s?”

So many, “But then what’s?”

So many thoughts that my young imagination churned that no one could really answer for me, and I would get so frustrated.

As I grew older I was able to chalk some things up to young wonders. I never found straight answers, but I was able to be satisfied through the efforts of my research. Still to this day I ask questions until I’m pretty sure people deliberately avoid me. I ask questions that are blunt when my filter isn’t at its best. I ask questions that are pretty personal if you let me get comfortable enough. And I still ask a few questions that no one can answer.

Tragedy hit my small community again last weekend. The whole town, and those kind neighboring towns, are all weeping over another seemingly way too premature loss of a beloved smile and contagious laugh.

Why?

These are the kind of questions that I’ve concluded I’ll never have the privilege of knowing during my time on earth.

Theologians have their beliefs, but who wants to hear them when you hurt? Don’t tell a weeping mother about the broken world we live in when she knows what broken is better than anyone. Don’t tell those who are weeping, a story about some bigger plan. We are asking questions that are bigger than your plan. They are bigger than the world.

 

During the conversations I had with Jordan Grisham when he was still alive, we asked each other a lot of unanswerable questions about heaven. He was the only person I know who was more excited about that place than I was. We would talk about it like it was some tropical vacation to an unknown island.

“What does it look like?” “What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get there?” “Who’s the first person you’ll hug after Jesus?” “What is it really like to worship all day and never get tired?”

I know it sounds morbid, but it wasn’t to us. After all, isn’t that the goal? Think of the way we aspire for careers, and families, and a house with a pool. Aren’t we supposed to be so excited for heaven? Isn’t that the final destination, the aspiration to spend the rest of your life in the overwhelming presence of our Lord?

Jordan’s there now, with the answers to all of our late night questions, and I envy him so much. Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful earthly life, and I have no desire to end it prematurely, but I am so excited to join him one day and receive my answers.

And that’s what leads me to my final point. I think I have some answers, and I think you can too if you’re willing to invest in them. What if my friends and my family that passed before me are still here, and some days I’m even there. I’m not crazy, don’t call the psycho hospital—yet—hear me out.

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photo by Katy Crist: Tina

I remember the first Indiana sunset I ever took the time to notice. In a state I honestly found no fondness of at first, I saw heaven in the sun setting the whole way down on the miles of harvested fields. It was unearthly. Nothing could really capture it. Ignore the stuff you see on the Instagram of my schoolmates, you have no idea how powerful that fire in the sky is in person, setting on the flat lands of little Upland, Indiana.

I have the privilege of seeing this unearthly reveal in a new, and breathtaking, design every evening, and one day I stopped choosing to see it.

How much of heaven have you been revealed to, and yet, you dared to grow immune to it?

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Photo by Katy Crist

I challenge you to see it again. It makes it hurt a little less to be so much closer to those we love, and I think this is God’s way of allowing it.

I’m closer to the one’s I’ve lost through the innocence of my nephews’ sleeping breaths, the ways some music can just move me, even in the perfect blend of ingredients that create my favorite foods.

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I think part of me is in heaven some days through the hearts of those who chose to love me mutually, and I think heaven is here in the same way.

We draw this hard line, but maybe heaven isn’t the white to our black, maybe there are some shades of gray that fall in the middle.

I mean, why not?

One day, Lord willing, a long time from now, I may be there fully in the place I’ve dreamed of since I was little, but for now, let us all try to enjoy the glimpses we receive of it here on earth.

That may be the only answer I get for a long time, and I’m choosing to be content with it.

 


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