March 22, 2016 marks the one-year anniversary of Kara’s Homecoming. For the week leading up to that day, we are publishing a series of reflections that some of Kara’s nearest and dearest have written as they’ve processed what this anniversary means to their hearts. This article is a part of that series.
Last fall our women’s Bible study read through Mark. I was only sporadically present due to a lot of sickness in our family. But I would read and study when I could; I read about Jesus healing the paralytic, making the blind man see, casting out all those demons into all the pigs, and even raising a little girl from the dead.
Because I grew up reading and learning these things, sometimes they don't sink in all the way. It's like learning about the planets—you kinda have always known about them so it's not as amazing as it actually is. Huge balls of gas and fire rotating around the sun...I'm sure the first person to see a planet through a telescope really understood how freaking amazing the universe is. So that's how I view the Bible sometimes; I believe it, I believe it's true, but does it sink in until I really believe it? I mean, Jesus was actually a person and actually performed all these miracles.
For some reason this past fall it all sunk in; I got it on a deeper level. He’s real! He did all these things! And if he is a real person (and lots of historical accounts besides the Bible says he is), and the entire course of history has been changed because of his life, then God is real. And if God is real and the Bible is real and true, then Heaven is real and eternity is real.
And so ironically (and shamefully), in thinking about Jesus and his miracles, I got angry. All through the Gospel, Jesus is performing miracles to show his power, that he was indeed God’s Son. So why has he stopped? Why did he not cure Kara who has four young children and had so much joy and life and light? Why doesn't he cure my mom’s cancer? She’s my mom.
He can do it, right? Why does it seem the world is falling apart?
But I realized two things. First, we can't even imagine a world where God has taken his hand away from protecting us. Our minds wouldn't be able to grasp the horror. And He did cure my mom of her breast cancer 15 years ago, and she got to see me get married and have 4 children. He does miracles all the time, protects us all the time. Is God good? Yes. Does he always have good for us? Yes. He is so good that the God who created all of this, all the millions of stars and planets and the Grand Canyon and blue whales and giraffes, mourns with us in our sadness. That huge great God—he is sad with us. He wrote it in scriptures that have been passed down for thousands of years: God is near to the broken hearted. Do you believe that, brothers and sisters? Because if we did, if I did, the deep losses we face would be a little easier to swallow because we’d remember he’s right next to us: that huge, great God is with you.
Secondly, I realized that those miracles that Jesus performed? The blind man, the paralytic, the dead girl...you know what happened to them all eventually? They all died. Seems sad, right? And like a waste of a miracle. But something deep down inside of me shifted and I saw the true miracle, the one we all get to be a part of. The miracle of new life. Eternal life. That miracle? That miracle that came from Jesus giving his life for us? We all get to experience it. Kara, my mom, me. The real miracle is resurrection. Jesus is still performing that miracle every day.
And that all sounds so churchy, I know. But let's stop and think about it. I've thought about it so much the past year. Eternal life: those words hardly hold any meaning because our minds can't even fathom it, and frankly it sounds boring. But here’s this--Indian food, hiking gorgeous mountain ranges, pizza from south Italy, surfing, camping, classical music, sunrises and sunsets, laughter, hip hop, dancing, more laughter, cheese from France with a warm baguette, horses, our dog Harriet, my great grandma, the coast of Ireland when it's sunny, the redwood forest, elephants, snorkeling in warm clear water, my sweet children, and on and on. People, all these things await me! All the parts of the world that I want to explore, and the good things in life that God has gifted to us—all these things are mine. All the tears of this earth will somehow be redeemed. The glory of Heaven will somehow reach back to all the pain and terror of this life and make it whole. This is the true and lasting miracle Jesus gives us. His Shalom.
So what do we do when life and grief bowls us over? We get up and we put one foot in front of the other. We keep showing up for people. We cry but we also we rejoice when gladness and beauty comes our way. We help push back the effects of the fall—we create, we play, we love. We have gratitude for the days we've been given. We hunt for grace because it's always, always there. And that huge, great God is always with us.