How could they take Him?
It's the great goodbye. When someone you love is gone, for what feels like, forever. How can they be gone? How can this be the end? How do we let this all go? The memories flood and you sob under a hot steam of water in the shower. How did you go from there to here? How could I have forgotten to send that card, make that phone call? And now the what if's and the should have's are small on the scale. The loss itself outweighs it all.
How can they be taken away?
I thought of the concept of loss, of letting go, earlier in the day. I stood at the edge of the pond behind my church, reflecting on my own baptism, reflecting on my own fears, reflecting on my own terror of the possibility of having to let go of what feels too soon. I watched two geese move from the brown bank into the blue water. They sailed effortlessly across the surface.
Moving from land to water didn't bother them. They were unfazed. If anything, they looked more at home regally gliding than standing against the hem of the water, honking at me. They could easily be at home in both places - land or water. They were just fine up there on the growing grass. But they were more them in the pond. I nodded to the ripples and to the clouds above. Okay.
Whether it's family or friend, loss is loss. And watching them go through the great door that is not for you, not yet, is hard. Unbelievably hard. But when we can get past the sudden wrenching in our own hearts, we realize that while they could be just fine here with us, at home even, they were never created to stay here. They weren't made for this world, this kingdom. They were made for a greater space, a greater glory. And jealousy might itch against our palms a little, wishing we could walk through, too. It's always worse for the ones left behind.
I watched my son's face and thought about that despair I heard in his little voice. We've read and talked lots about Jesus in his five short years. We've done a lot of prayers, a lot of explaining, a lot of personalizing that Christ is real, that He is relevant, that He is here, that He loves. He saves. He's as real to my son as is his great-grandmother who is hours away. He's family. He's Someone we love.
And how could they just take Him away?
I get it.
We love Him. His disciples loved Him, too. When He told them that He was going away, that He would prepare a place... did they want Him to stay with them? No, they wanted to go, too. They wanted to be wherever He was. If they take You away, let them take us away. The gut wrenching terror. Oh no. No. Don't. Don't go somewhere that we can't follow. Don't leave us here... without you.
It's love that makes us want them to stay. And it's love that makes them want to go.
I watch Joel's face as he stares solemnly out the window. The tears just beneath the surface. He's processing. Dealing. Questioning. "Honey, I have to run in and get Travis. I'll be right back and we can talk more about Jesus, okay?" He nods with sorrow and with mixed relief. As soon as I get back in the van and we're all stowed away and ready to head home, he turns to me. He wants to know more.
I remind him that yes. Yes, they did take His body away. Yes, He died on that cross. "Did they put him in the tomb in the movie you watched?" He said they did. "And what happened?" His eyes seemed to brighten a little, a small light being switched on.
"He rose again." I choke.
"That's right. Baby, He rose again. They may have taken Him away but they could not keep Him there."
I feel truth burning in my heart, a recently learned choir tune racing through my mind.
"Joel, do you know what Jesus did for us while His body was taken away? He went down into the darkest place, into death... and He took all the keys. All the keys that would lock us away... He took them. So that we can be free. So that we can live with Him forever. He had to die on the cross and they had to take Him away... it's the only way He could come back and take us away, too."
And in my minivan on a Tuesday afternoon I proclaim freedom to my son. To myself. In the midst of the scary, the unknown, the please, please prays... into it all, I speak what I know.
He took the keys. And He had to be taken away.
There was no other way. It had to happen. It had to go down just like that. So that we can have hope. Life. Forgiveness. Grace. Mercy. Love.
So that when we are all taken away,...
...we know exactly where away will be.