The family has gathered. We ride the ups and down of sudden changes in breathing or consciousness. We share stories and pictures. We are waiting for Dad, my father-in-law Jim, to die.
As I look out the back door to the lake, I am struck by the beauty of these summer days. The sun shines. The birds sing. The breeze breathes through the trees and hovers on the face of the waters.
If I change my focus, however, I mostly see dirty screen: metal mesh marked by greasy hand prints mingled with the remains of bugs that didn’t quite make it in, or out, as the case may be. The beauty of the creation is relegated to background noise when my focus is on the dirty screen.
I guess waiting for death feels a lot like that. In the near ground, so close it demands my attention, is the dirty reality of death. And it is ugly: labored breathing, rattling lungs, pale flesh, sallow cheeks. It would be easy to stay focused on what’s right in front of my face.
But change the focus just a little and the New Creation comes into view: the promise of life, real and eternal life, of days spent in the light, of the Spirit hovering over His people. In the moments I catch a glimpse of that promise, the present suffering stops taking center stage.
Don’t get me wrong, the pain of the present is still there. But like the screen door, it stops taking up my whole field of vision. I can see through the grimy reality of the fallen creation and focus more on the reality of the New Creation, the promise Dad will experience in full in the resurrection of the flesh.
Death is ugly. But it’s not the final word. Changing the focus helps me see that.
And one day—the promise is soon—the screen door will be ripped off of its track and the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed.
Soon, Dad will step into the light. And when the trumpet sounds, his body will rise, and the New Creation will be his only reality.
I can see that already now, when the focus is right, even though my present view is through the screen.
I, for one, can’t wait for the door to be opened once and for all.
Come quickly, Lord.