Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

“I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come.” Psalm 121

I just returned to the office after a very touching and emotional graveside service at a smoke-filled Bayview Cemetery. The theme of my meditation was supposed to be “death out of season.” You see, the young man who had died was the same age as my oldest daughter. Jeremy was born in 1987. A few weeks ago, his heart stopped, leaving his young wife, his loving parents, and his dear grandmother in unspeakable grief. It was indeed, “death out of season.”

As the service started, I stated the obvious, none of us wanted to be at the Bayview Cemetery. None of us wanted to be graveside, weeping at the loss of a young man who was described as a free spirit, a faithful husband, a grandson who called his Whidbey Island grandmother every week. At some point in my reflections, the theme of “death out of season” was overcome by the image of a shaking fist. We considered the shaking fists of Martha and Mary as they expressed their anger when their 30-year-old brother had died out of season. Martha and Mary shook their fists at heaven, at Jesus, and at a cruel, seemingly unfair world.

Shaking a fist toward God is the only logical response to such a mysterious, earth shattering loss. Somewhere along the line it occurred to me that shaking a fist toward God is, in fact, the most honest confession of faith that we could ever share. We direct our wrath and grief toward a God that we will never be able to comprehend. It is a confession of faith from disappointed and broken children. “I know that you are there, I know that you hear me. Why, tell me why it must be this way?” There are no flowery theological words in this confession. This confession is honest, faithful and passionate. “I am not happy, I am hurt, I feel betrayed, and so I send my anger in the only direction that I can. I shake my fist to the maker of heaven and earth.”

There was nothing I liked about being at graveside today, the raw emotion of parents my age who were burying a child the age of my daughters was offensive to me. It was a threat, it was a reminder that I am in control of very little, and I don’t like it one bit. I had a few words with God, but if it had been one of my own, my anger would have railed against God and against death. I would have shouted out in inappropriate language, a confession of faith, the honest human confession of one who does not understand how God is working, but believes still that God is working.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come.”

It was death out of season, we shook our fists toward heaven. God can take it; God cries with us. Jesus wept and so do we.

We are not alone, we are……… One Day Closer.

Pastor Jim