The last time I saw you was on my wedding day, and the next time I will see you will be on The Wedding Day, the reunion of Christ and his Bridegroom, Him and us joining together in eternal bliss that we all hope and long for.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
For these words are trustworthy and true—
It is true that one day there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.
It is true that one day the Father will physically wipe away this daughter’s tears from her eyes.
It is true that I won’t have to fear death taking captive any more of my cancer survivor brothers and sisters, my family, my friends.
It is true that there won’t be a divide between Him and I nor I and my friends nor I and Him and we.
A week ago we celebrated the Resurrection.
Today, I’m going to my friend Ashleigh’s visitation and tomorrow to her funeral.
I hate visitations. And yet, in God’s mercy, He is showing me why.
Yes, seeing the open casket and the body there is surreal and weird and odd. My friend is laying there but its not my friend laying there either. Her laughter is not there. Her love for Justin Timberlake and reading young adult novels and Panera’s chicken and wild rice soup is not there. Her desire for travel is now resting. She won’t attending chemotherapy the same time as me anymore, no longer transforming a boring hospital stay to a sweet and laughter-filled reunion.
My friend is gone when I go today and look at that body.
And as much as I’m dreading seeing that empty body of hers today, the Lord’s reminding me that maybe it isn’t as morbid as my heart deep within me feels. Because this isn’t the last time I will be seeing that body of hers. Yes, it may be going deep, deep into the ground tomorrow but there is the promise, the Resurrection promise of Christ, that Ashleigh and her body will join again, that together one day we will see and experience each other without cancer as our main connection but as Him and our joy as our tether.
1 corinthians 15
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
Today I am seeing your body-seed being planted, and in the future I will see your new body transformed to be imperishable—never ending, never dying, eternal and perfect. Just as I hold an apple seed and know that it is only it’s beginning, I know your body is not just ending but its beginning. Just as I know that seed will transform into an awe-inspiring tree, I can be confident that your body will one day rise up again when called and will be transformed in glory and in power.
So today, when I see you, Jesus help me to remember these promises. That this will not be the last time I see your physical body either. I can be confident of a physical and spiritual reunion with my friend Ashleigh. And in the meantime, I can be confident that she is home with You where all of us belong.
“Hold your friends lovingly but be ready to yield them to Jesus. Don’t hold them back from the One to whom they belong. When they are sick, fast and pray. But when they depart, do much as David did, who washed his face and ate and drank. You will go to them; they cannot return to you. Comfort yourselves with the double thought of their joy in Christ and Christ’s joy in them. And triple the thought of the Father’s joy in Christ and in them…Dying is but going home.”
Charles Spurgeon from We Shall See God
Welcome home, Ashleigh.
This is how I see her in Heaven now.