How the Death of My Infant Son Brought Me Closer to Heaven
THESE days I’m no longer afraid of tears. I’m not afraid to cry, and, in fact, I find weeping is the touch of God in my life. I’m not worried about how I will look or how vulnerable I’ll appear. If anything, my tears bring glory to God.
Tears. I learned something about them a long time ago now. The first time I faced a life-jarring grief – over a decade ago. I learned that tears brought me into the very Presence of God in my grief, for tears represented surrender.
Tears are a beacon of a heart’s longing for the impossible. And because the impossible cannot be realised, there is surrender; tears.
Learning the consummate spiritual value in surrender is the biggest life lesson ever.
Everything else is secondary; surrender leads us directly or ultimately to acceptance.
Acceptance is very simply the meaning of life; principally, the acceptance of truth.
Those given to tears must realise how close they come to touching heaven whenever they are touched.
I can look at an image of my deceased son, Nathanael, and immediately be welling up with sea billows that roll. The image at his funeral with his Mum, looking over his open casket, forlorn and broken – such an image floods my mind not only with emotions of empathy for the eternal sadness of a life away from God in the body; it floods my heart with matters of emotion I cannot comprehend.
It’s a longing for eternity, itself.
Yet, my time here is not done, and I have much to live for.
But there is now a reframing of life that’s occurred that is irrevocable. No longer do the things of this world hanker for my attention as they used to. There is a certain resignation that this is not all there is.
Touching heaven is changing earth. My earth is changed. It is changed for the better. It is changed supremely.
As a matter of practice I am drawn to remembering my son. Each time I do this – to spend a special moment with him, by the side of a memory – God comes into the space and communes quietly with us. Most times God communicates he is there simply via the experience of something new.
Eternity in the living moment, here and now, is a sacred and avidly quiet space. I wonder if there is a better experience over the whole earth to be had. I think not.
I wonder what God had in mind when he brought the dual blows to bear over our son’s life. Surely it was not for our suffering alone. We count the blessings over and above our suffering Nathanael’s loss. And there are so many of them as to make counting irrelevant.
Having suffered the loss of Nathanael we have learned so many lessons that could not have been learned otherwise.
Certain things in a life shrouded by eternity are unknowable. Acceptance for what cannot be understood is a portent of peace in an otherwise wearying life.
In a life shrouded by eternity, we have much more perspective of what life is and what it contains and what it can bring. We are so vulnerable. We fool only ourselves if we will not be partakers in the heavenly gift.
And what of this heavenly gift? It is more unknowable than anything. We have only human faculties for thought and ingenuity and creation. We proffer what life is; its purpose and meaning. We can only ever postulate. We cannot know it other than by what we believe.
What is God teaching us in this grief? What is God intending we learn from a life encounter that is only reconciled in heaven?
God is teaching us to hope. Faith is the only way through. We are being taught to hope for a touch of the untouchable. We have learned that there is nothing like faith.
Faith will bear us up upon the wings of patience.
It is so hard to look at someone who God gave us who has now passed away.
God would have us know that we have our loved ones for the time he determines. The reasons they are taken from us are unfathomable. There is much more reason to be at peace with what we cannot understand than rail against it.
We think only in terms of our pain. God’s perspective hardly registers. God’s perspective superintends our pain. It contains our pain. But God’s perspective is utterly voluminous.
The Christian worldview informs us in a healthy way regarding our suffering. We are truthful about how the pain we endure makes us feel. We also believe in a hope just beyond us in eternity.
Nathanael, sweet boy,
Sweet little man we held,
God holds you in glory,
Emotions of eternity come to meld.
Nathanael, sweet boy,
Little man, little son, little brother,
Save your blessings for your mother.
Nathanael, sweet boy,
Special in every eternal way,
Until we make it to you on that Day.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.