â€œHow do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep…that have taken hold.â€ â€• J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
â€œHe will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.â€â€ (Revelation 21:4 ESV)
It is these two realities that I struggle with today. Today is the ninth anniversary of the death of my mother, Susan Peperkorn (nee Troy). There is nothing really new or different about this year. We are in California now, enjoying the gifts that God has given to us at this stage in our lives. My children are happy. My wife is, as usual, moving about three times faster than I am. It is sunny outside and warm. I have a wonderful, supportive congregation and staff. But I cannot get the feeling of stuckness out of my head, the overwhelming blanket of death which infects us all to one degree or another.
In the quotation from Tolkien above, Frodo is remembering the knife wound from the witch-king at Weathertop. It was an evil blade, and the would bothered him all the days of his life. Even though he was physically healed, the wound would remind him evert year that he was not whole, that in his journey there had been loss, and that time does not heal all wounds.
This is how it is for me and death. I feel sometimes that I could go from anniversary to anniversary. From death to death to death, and that Satan would drag me down until there is nothing left. Mom, Bruce, Nadia, Emmanuel, Grandpaw & Grandma,Uncle Bill, Grandma Ardis, Grandpa Wilbur. I can remember them all and more. And this does not include all those whom I have buried over the decades as a pastor. Signe and Margaret. Blackey and Ed. Anastasia and Gabriel. Sometimes it seems as though life is one big funeral, and that we simply go from one to the next without any break or even time to recover.
Time does not heal all wounds, but Jesus does. I do not mean this in a pious, syrupy way. What I mean is that Jesus heals all wounds in His resurrection. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. And in HIs death, all of our loved ones near and far were covered. They were covered with His blood, so that now as they arise in the waters of Baptism, their earthly deaths will have an end.
Only Jesus can heal the wounds of a broken soul. Only Jesus can heal the wounds of death which envelop us all. This side of the grave there are wounds that can never fully heal. But this side of the grave is not the end. Jesus breaks the bonds of death itself, so that there will come a time when there are no more tears, no more sorrow, no more morning. Indeed, there comes a time when death itself will be no more.
I, for one, cannot wait. My sadness will pass. The darkness will give rise to the dawn. I rest in Christ, just as all those who died in the faith rest in Him even now.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there.