Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Other Side

There is a long covered bridge on the way to Amish country in Ohio. It is part of the Mohican Valley trail and is said to be the longest covered bridge in Ohio and the second longest in the nation. To get to the bridge, you have to turn off the main highway and follow a little road up a winding hill to a parking lot. People walk, ride bikes, horses and drive buggies on this trail. The bridge is a very beautiful and peaceful spot. Our children love to pretend that on the other side of the bridge is a magical land, like Narnia, where exciting adventures await them. We've never ventured over to the other side. The bridge is usually just a quick stop for us to take pictures, to look at the river below, and to stretch our legs after a full day in Amish country. We keep saying that someday, we will take the time to explore the other side, but in some ways, I prefer to keep the other side somewhat of a mystery. Perhaps, I'm more comfortable on this side. It's what I know.

I've been thinking of this bridge and the concept of "the other side" a lot lately. About a week ago, my dear aunt, my mother's sister, passed away. Jena suffered a stroke a few months ago, but was on the road to recovery. She lived quite far from us, so seeing her was always a treat for me. I remember some very precious times with her whenever we could visit. I really hoped I could see her just one more time, but then, she had a second stroke, and then, a third. I was able to write her just one more letter and just an hour before she died, my cousin called me and put the phone to Jena's ear, so I could tell her that I loved her. I also sang a verse of "Amazing Grace" to her. That was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but I was so thankful that the Lord allowed me one more moment with her.

As hard as it was to let my aunt go, I ache for my mother at this time. This was her sister, her twin sister. They had shared so much together. Even though they lived far apart, they were still connected. So,I am hurting over the loss of a dear aunt, but I am also hurting for my mom.

And, not only that, I am hurting when I think about having to let go of my mom someday. We are also connected in a very real way. I love her so much. I can't fathom a time when I won't be able to receive one of her encouraging letters or pick up the phone and talk for a while. I will miss our walks, meeting together for lunch and the smile on her face when she sees her grandchildren. I will miss her stories of growing up on the farm with her and her sisters. I will miss hearing her laugh and sharing our inside jokes. I will miss her hugs and I will miss hearing her talk of her faith in the Lord.

As hard as it is to say goodbye to our loved ones, we all have to face death. Some sooner. Some later. We know this fact, but I have a feeling that most of us don't really want to think about it. I want to be around to raise my children and perhaps, to see my grandchildren. I want to do more for the Lord before my day comes, but God is the One who gives us each day. God gives us breath for as long as He wills. Our lives are like that long bridge. We may be walking on it for a while, but soon, we will have to go to the other side. What is there? For many, it will mean an eternity without Christ. For the rest, it will mean never-ending bliss. To be with our Lord forever! As Christians, we know that heaven will be glorious. We've read the verses and we say we look forward to the day we will be with Jesus, but are we truly excited about being on the other side? This world is all we know and I believe we can become too comfortable here. I do not mean that heaven is all we should think about. After all, God did give us a job to do while we are here, but let's remember where we are going and long for it. Charles Spurgeon said, "Do not be afraid to die, beloved, but rather look at death as an experience to be desired. I have not the slightest wish to escape." Just imagine. A place where there is no pain, no sorrow, no struggle with sin. Imagine seeing the face of Jesus. I, like Paul, want to be able to say, "To live is Christ and to die is gain(Phil.1:21).

While here, I want to teach my children to love the Lord their God with all of their hearts. I want to walk hand in hand with my husband on this journey. I want to honor my parents and love my brother and sister. I want to be a testimony to whoever God puts in my path. I want to follow Christ and then, when He says it's time, I will take His hand and walk to the other side.

"By the crystal flowing river,
With the ransomed I will sing.
And forever and forever,
Praise and glorify the King.

All that thrills my soul is Jesus.
He is more than life to me.
And, the fairest of ten thousand,
In my blessed Lord I see."

1 comment:

Terry and Linda Lee said...

Beautiful! Very clear illustration.

Your heart comes through in your words. I pray for you and for your mom and your aunt's family.
Love Mom Lee