Loss. It is inevitable that our humanity will feel the sting of grief while on this earth. Ever since that fateful day in that beautiful garden, when the greatest loss of all–the loss of purity of vision and full acceptance of God’s love–triggered the introduction of sin, pain, and frightening vulnerability, we struggle. We fight the interior battle every day. The battle of good and evil. The battle of hope and discouragement.
Two houses were taken from my life recently. One went slowly, as it awaited being sold to the right family for the right price, and the other went suddenly and unexpectedly as it became engulfed in flames and wrapped in smoke. But they were both family homes filled with memories and emotions. They were homes that will forever be looked back upon fondly. They were homes that will be missed.
And so it is with loss. Sometimes it is sudden, shocking, and over with before we know it, leaving behind a bare lot with a few smoldering ashes. Other times it creeps toward us slowly. We almost forget it could even happen, and then remember that it’s coming–that moment of letting go. That moment of coming face to face with change and mortality.
It is in these moments that we must choose between hope and discouragement. It is in these moments that we must realize the phrase “This too shall pass” refers not only to the challenging phases of life, but also to the good, the beautiful, and the secure.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Matt 6: 19-21
It doesn’t take us long to fill the rooms of our homes with treasures. Furniture, clothes, toys, gadgets, indulgent food–we are often more attached to these things than we realize. But it is the people who fill those rooms that really test our focus. We fall in love with them. We fall in love with the memories we make with them. We look around the rooms in our homes, and we remember the Christmas tree that always sat in that corner. The tree we all helped decorate every year while Christmas music played in the background, and Christmas cookies sat on a plate waiting to be eaten between hanging an ornament and conversing about the joy of the season.
We remember gathering with family and friends to celebrate graduations, engagements, weddings, and new babies. We remember how these parties always had too much food, too little space for everyone, and too little time to really visit with each of our loved ones.
We remember coming together as those same loved ones, the ones we just saw at that party last year, begin to leave us. And we realize that our homes were never about the food, or the furniture, or the Christmas trees, or even just the people.
Rather, our homes are a stop along the way. A place to refuel, recharge, and be infused with God’s grace. Not a place to keep our hearts, but a place to give our hearts. A place to give our hearts to God and encourage our loved ones to do the same. Do we miss the people we love and the things that remind us of them when they are gone? Of course. The sting of loss is built into our very humanity. But the purpose of the sting is to remind us that there will always be a hole. There will always be a longing–until we reach the one place where our real treasures are stored and our hearts reside.
Our home is in heaven, and our Father is calling us. This is the hope that sustains us. In the midst of change, uncertainty, and grief, this is the hope that shall not pass.
Copyright 2014, Charisse Tierney