Birth and Death are common to us all and yet they never cease to amaze me. Today is the day a friend of mine went to be with the Lord. Today, for another friend, is the due date for the birth of her sixth child. And both experiences leave me awed. Is that the right word for it? Awed? Yes, I think it is.
My friend not only fought cancer valiantly she spent the time from her diagnosis living valiantly. She spent her time living! Life did not get swallowed up into the expected: all about her and her fight with cancer. She chose to continue to serve and actively love others. Awesome.
Last week when she was told death was near she let a wide circle of friends know she wanted to see them. When I visited her on Friday I learned 12 friends had shown up throughout the day on Thursday. My thoughts were mixed. “Wow, that’s exhausting. I hope they had the courtesy to call before they came,” and “Wow, that’s a lot of loving in action. She deserves to see the impact she’s had on all of us”. My thoughts were mixed up all right. God knew what was needed.
One of the ways she chose to live life to it’s fullest was to be in contact with many of the young women in our church. I learned that her eyes lit up when a young gal visited her last night. Our pastor’s wife summed it up beautifully, “She was ministering to the end”. Young women need to be seen for the treasures they are. My friend made sure this gal knew she was seen. That kindness, selflessness and faith produces awe for those of us who were so honored to be witnesses. Just a few weeks ago she served as a greeter at our Sunday morning worship service. Our greeters do double duty and collect the offering. When she was passing the offering plate she was offering herself. The entire congregation sat in awe.
As I wait to hear that my other friend is in labor I’m not in the stereotypical state of the “circle of life” mentality. The state of awe is filling my heart and mind. It doesn’t matter that babies are born every minute. It doesn’t matter that we all came into this world the same way. It doesn’t matter that this is her sixth child. This little girl’s coming is an event that stirs up an awe in me over the common.
Why do so many of us find our hands have magnets that reach out for the magnet in a pregnant woman’s belly? Why do we pray when we hear someone is in labor? Why do we expect to hear the baby’s height and weight and how the mother’s labor progressed? Because the word common is not married to the word blasé. Miracles are common.
Why does it still stun me that one moment someone is living among us and the next she is in heaven and I can’t see her? Because the word common is not married to the word acceptable. We were not created to die. That’s why Jesus had to come in the first place. Death may be common but what we feel every time it occurs is uniquely painful. When we read in the Bible “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”, we are being told that for those who put their faith in Jesus, death on earth is not the end of life. The sting of death here on earth however, is real and it will never feel right. But today it is felt alongside the joy of knowing my friend is in the very presence of Jesus. Awesome.
That we are born and die is common. But how we live and die is uncommon.
The life and death of my friend who has left us today brings tears and great sorrow. Tears and joy. Tears, joy, sorrow, hope and awe.
The birth of this girl will bring tears of joy. Joy and labor. Joy, tears, labor, hope and awe.
Today I’m anticipating seeing my friend again and I’m anticipating seeing this new little darlin’ for the first time. Today, I am in awe.