“He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed?”

For the first time in a half a century - yes I am that old - I am not in in a worship service on Easter.  In fact, I cannot remember a time when I was sick on Easter.  Easter is my favorite holiday, and I love worshiping with other believers on this special day.  Yet on this Easter God has made me more aware of the profound gift God’s people have received in the resurrection of Jesus.  This awareness has come through the health of my father and the loss of a son.

A week ago today, mom called and said she had to call an ambulance as dad could not get himself out of his chair.  After testing and a couple X-rays they found that he had pneumonia and would be in the hospital for a while.  On Maundy Thursday we got him home and settled in his favorite chair.  In the process it became clear that I needed to stay for a few days.  At 81, my rough and tumble missionary dad, was very weak and confused. 

As I type these words, he is once again in his chair.  He is moving better, but still needs help getting up and one of us walks close behind him when needs to get to the bathroom. He is extremely weak and in all probability his muscles and his mind will continue to weaken.  Words cannot express how difficult this is for me.  My dad really is my hero!  He has been a mentor and a dear friend. He has been a gift of grace that has allowed me to have a clearer picture of my heavenly Father.  The reality of losing him is truly depressing! 

 If I were not completely convinced of the promise of the resurrection, I don’t know what I would do. As I look at his frail frame the resurrection of Christ gives me confidence of his future resurrection! One day, he like all believers will receive a new and better body that will be perfect in every way!

 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive . . . 42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is 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. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.[1]

When Lent began however, it was not my dad that was on my heart and mind, but our son Noah Zachary.  His little headstone sits at the foot of the grave site where dad's physical body will one day be laid to rest.  When we lost Noah almost 15 years ago, it was my dad’s request that he be buried at the foot of his grave-site   And since it is a private cemetery in the hills of East Tennessee we were able to do just that.

There is not an Easter that goes by that my wife and I don’t reflect on our little man.  Each year we ponder what he would be like in whatever age he would have been.  This year we had an early reminder when a friend sent us a picture they had taken when they came across his grave.  With our other son away at college, the reminder of his loss seemed to have a deeper sting.     

Honestly, I don’t know how I will face the day when I lay my father next to my son.  Though he is a shell of the man he used to be, it is a joy to sit here with him and to be honest I wouldn't want to be anywhere else!  This is very sweet fellowship! But I know that day is coming, and when it does I am trusting that God will give me the grace to soak in the promise of the resurrection, and through a tear stained face cry out to those around me, “He is Risen” to which I will hear the reply of joyous response, “He is Risen Indeed!

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (1 Co 15:20-22, 42–44). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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