My dad often says that his crayon box has only 8 colors. He was once told the color sample he was holding was pumpkin, not orange. (He came home from work and asked me what color pumpkins were, just to make his point.) Children do flavors one at a time. It starts with baby food – peas, carrots, apple sauce – then extends into not letting their foods touch each other on the plate. Children also have simple emotions; they like to feel one thing at a time and be able to identify it. At some point during adolescence, we become aware of mixed emotions. Sometimes things to be celebrated also make us sad. We cry at weddings, the birth of a child, and graduation. We also grieve after the death of a loved one, yet rejoice at the same time during the passing of a Christian.
Michael Spencer – husband, father, teacher, minister and Internet Monk – passed away on Monday evening, April 5th. I first responded by updating my Facebook status to a simple emoticon 😦 Then I read several friends that all talk about rejoicing that our dear brother had gone home and was at peace. Being face to face with Jesus is far better than being drugged out of one’s mind to avoid constant pain. Are prayers asking for healing of a sick Christian selfishly motivated? Healing a sickness is one thing, but for a terminally ill patient to simply go on living in misery is another entirely. Should we be feeling sad, for our own sake that is, or joyful that our friend rests in God’s presence? And the answer is: both are correct.
Martha and Mary wept after their brother Lazarus died. Jesus does not rebuke them for mourning. As a matter of fact, remember your shortest verse of the Bible? John 11:35 says that Jesus wept. Ecclesiastes describes a time and season for every purpose, mentioning the time for weeping and time for laughing specifically among others. And then of course the mixture. Sometimes we laugh until we cry. Other times we laugh and cry all at once. On occasion our emotions are simply so strong we can’t pick out exactly what it is we feel, we’re only sure there’s a lot of it.
Michael Spencer has graduated. He has left this world for bigger and better things. The sum total of all our years will seem like a moment in the span of eternity. The time until we met again will pass like vapor in the wind. We can mourn and comfort each other in the void he leaves behind, and at the same time rejoice as he rejoices on the streets of glory. His desire each day was to more clearly see the face of our Lord; and now that joy is complete.