The hope of deep heaven

“Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then, I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?”

“A great shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed and the sound was like music, or water in a parched land, and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count.

In moments of darkness, I have often found myself asking the same question as Sam: “Is everything sad going to come untrue?” –probing the Almighty for proof of beauty and redemption for my burdens of sadness. It wasn’t until I found out what other words enveloped Sam’s question that I began to truly realize that earthly grief is enveloped by joy and hope. This scene in The Return of the King doesn’t take place in the moments of the deepest despair and darkness. Sam doesn’t ask this question out of fear or desperation as I thought he did, and as I often ask. Rather, in this moment, the ring has been destroyed, Gandalf has come back from supposedly being dead, and the hobbits are safe. I love the lines that describe Gandalf’s laughter– literally, music to Sam’s ears, a refreshing glass of water in a desert.

This is what joy is like- the joy we were made to know. This is what tasting the hope of deep heaven is like, water in a parched land, stabs of joy even as we stand in the density of the desert of grief.

On September 18, around 3 am, a dear friend passed quietly from dusty earth to the Country of heaven. Kevin Korobko, the man whom Andrew has been living with and caring for this past year and a half went to be with Jesus. I heard the news while I was at school- not ideal to be crying in shock and disbelief while trying to plan the next day’s lessons. I came home and the waves of sadness swelled again, and again this morning as I laid awake in bed, struggling to believe that he is really gone, asking again, “Is everything sad going to come untrue?”

But the answer is yes! Today I am reminded that everything is already becoming untrue, even now. Because death has already been defeated, we no longer fear the grave. Because Kevin so loved God, he got to run to Him today- with a resurrected body completely free from pain, limitations, disease. I try think of heaven and I can’t even fathom the depths of beauty and joy awaiting us. It helps to think of Kevin, reunited with his mother, being given the healthiest body, the memory of his earthly pain completely gone. It helps to think of his wheelchair left behind. It helps balm the sadness to think that even on earth, God so graciously stabs us with joy, gives us longings for heaven. Sehnsucht. It helps to remember that our souls were made for laughter and the pure sounds of merriment, not weeping.

A great shadow has departed from what Kevin knew of earthly life, a great shadow has departed his old body. And we cannot believe that a great shadow is now covering us in his absence.

All is just a shadow of what is to come. 

 I believe in the holy shores of uncreated light
I believe there is power in the blood
And all of the death that ever was, 
If you set it next to life
…I believe it would barely fill a cup

'God is at home. We are in the far country.' - M. Eckhart
“There are stabs of joy that are found in the presence of grief. The moment when all around is thick and dark, and then, like a splash of color on an empty canvas comes the realization that this is not how it always will be. That God is present in our pain and moved by our tears. That grief is so deep because it is foreign to souls that were created for joy. Sometimes just knowing this is enough to kindle fires of hope in the midst of darkness. …these are the stabs of joy that keep me longing for a home I haven’t yet known. They are whispers of the language of my soul, reminding me that what we see now is just a shadow of all that is to come.” {Heidi Johnston}

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