[This is a church newsletter article from last month, reflecting on recent losses in our congregation.]
I miss my friends. Lew, Lois, JoAn, Kelly, Pete, Larry, Alice, and others. They’ve gone through a door that takes them to Christ. I’ll go through the same door one day. But for now, they live with Him on the other side of the door, and I live on this side. They graduated, and I stay in school. I miss my friends. I think about them every day.
My friends were a presence in my life, but now they are absent to me and present to Christ. I know them only as absence, as emptiness. Just as I start to get over one of them leaving, another goes away. It’s hard to lose a friend. It leaves a hole in the heart, and you must learn to walk around the hole.
My friends are in heaven, but where is that? If heaven is the place where God dwells, and God is everywhere, then does that mean my friends in heaven are everywhere too? It may not be possible, though, to call heaven a place at all since it’s so unlike anything we ordinarily call a place. Heaven is the not-a-place behind all places.
When John Wesley needed new faith, he sat in a home on Aldersgate Street and listened to Luther. So I have been reading Luther too. Luther points my attention back to the Gospel — to a heart with simple faith that holds onto promises. Faith has nothing else to cling to but a promise.
To a heartbroken woman whose brother had died, Christ made a promise: “Whoever believes in Me, even though they die, yet shall they live.” I trust in His promise too. Standing next to an icy cold grave, the promise seems as thin as thread, but faith tells me it’s as strong as a steel cable. Strong enough to hold me and my friends.
I trust Christ has given life to my friends who have died. He has welcomed them to His Father’s house. Christ will also give life to me one day when I walk through the door. I will see my friends again, face to face, in the not-a-place behind all places.
But for now, I simply miss them. Their absence swirls around like drifting snow, waiting for spring.