There is a quote which has been attributed to American author Mark Twain, which goes something along the lines when I was fourteen my father was completely ignorant, by the time I was twenty-one I was surprised how much he had learnt in the intervening seven years.
To play with this quote although only on the very edges of it, when I was eighteen I believed the age of forty-five was not just a long way off, but quite an old age. Now that I am forty-five I can see how young it is and how eighteen was merely yesterday.
I am forty five and two hundred and something days – an unremarkable age and one which would not be readily celebrated or mourned by many, but to me just the other day it was a red letter day, a significant day.
This winter has been cold, and with this day approaching from the corner of my mind an abyss seemed to form and overwhelm some of my thoughts and feelings.
To steal a quote this winter of my discontent seemed to quantify within me and the urges for quitting all and sundry grew like an expediential graph with the cold wind that seemed to blow not just out the door but howl within the depths of the soul.
In Nineteen Eighty Five when I was just eighteen, my father was forty five and for reasons unknown to myself decided that his life was not worth living and took his life.
He died. He died by his own hand.
It was a devastating experience. The other day I became older than the age he was when he died. That was as weird as it was harrowing.
He was so young is the feeling I now have as I think about him, and whilst forty-five now is younger than forty-five then, like most ages, those of the past now seem to be older than we are now, it is an incredible young age to die.
So where is the great lesson in theology then? Where is the great encouragement? Where is the great look how I grew from this experience and hey it’s all good.
Well there is not any of that really, sometimes you just seem to wander through an emotional winter and suffer through the frost of pain and suffering and then eventually with time and with the warmth of the glow of God’s love you slowly make you way through life.
I’m not saying we should just sit in depression but you know what sometimes there are no answers, sometimes grief is just grief and the only way out of it is time, and getting on with life.
I have not wallowed in my pain and it would be easy to do, I have kept going, although I can see the differences within me, I can see in my eyes as I look in the mirror the spark that is slightly dimmed. I can hear in my laugh the sense of joy that is not there. I can here in my voice a tiredness that comes from an emotional suitcase that is weighing my inner man down.
But just as the Bible says Samson’s hair started to grow again, and just as every night is followed by another dawn, and just as every winter is followed by a Spring and then a Summer so I can say there is still life in this ‘old man.’
So I will go on, I will go on with my life to new pastures and I will cling to the love and grace of God. I will have highs and lows and experience more pain and see more joy, but I know this, that all these feelings are temporal and there is something that is not and that is Heaven.
Heaven is something I need to not just cling to, and not just get a vision of, but to marinate my whole life in, because I need to live my life with the realisation and the reality of heaven as a fact.
What I do and how I think, what I say and the way I live should be with Heaven firmly in the foreground and the background of my life.
So I struggle on. As my shuffling footsteps edge ever onwards to the end of this mortal stage whenever that might be, I will endeavour to see heaven despite what I feel and the pain I might feel.
This has been a little disjointed, but I’m not going to spend time editing it, I just want to finish these thoughts by thinking aloud – I wonder if embracing the concept of eternity would change the way we see pain and suffering and confusion, and if we would me more willing to just endure the things we do not like (for not just the sake of the gospel but for the fact that life really does to put it bluntly suck sometimes), because we know it is all temporal and nothing not height or depth or love or pain or... can separate us from the love of God and the promise of Heaven.