“I love it,” Casey said as he brushed away the tears spilling out of his eyes. That was exactly the reaction I was hoping for when he opened the Christmas gift I had bought him.
We were only two months removed from Haven’s death, and this would be our first Christmas without her. Grief was still heavy, and disappointment still weighed on our hearts, so I’d wanted to present him with a gift that reminded both of us that there was hope beyond that painful place in time.
After a lot of searching, I had decided to frame Casey’s favorite picture of Haven. I’d picked out a small silver frame that could sit on his desk and had it engraved with Daddy, if you could see me now.
Our pain must be made translucent, something we look through rather than look to.
I chose those seven words because to me they invoked an image of Haven healed, whole, and having a blast in Heaven. I pictured her with long, thick brown hair, running barefoot through a field of wildflowers in a white dress, saying, “Keep going. Heaven is worth it!” That mental picture has helped me so much in those times when my eternal perspective dims and Heaven feels far away.
The moment Haven passed away, I felt the closest to Heaven I have ever felt. In one second, one crossing over of worlds, part of me was deposited in Heaven. The presence of God settled in my bedroom like a weighted blanket, easing my grief. The veil shadowing my eyes thinned, and the other side felt more real to me than ever before. My heart connected with the world to come and felt its hope.
That heightened awareness of Heaven lasted for months. Then, like the glow on Moses’ face after spending time in God’s presence (Exodus 34:29-35), it faded, and the veil thickened. But the seed of eternity in my heart is still growing free, wildly wrapping itself in every part of my soul. More than ever, my heart yearns for its glorious Home.
Life without Haven still occasionally snatches my breath away. Losing a child is rightfully excruciating, something that in many ways you never completely get over. Maybe you understand it all too well, but when I elevate my vision, as I’m compelled to do even today, and look through my pain to eternity, I realize that Haven was never the one who filled my lungs.
It is Christ in me who supplies my next breath. And it is Christ in you who supplies yours.
Haven was a gift for me to steward, but she ultimately belongs to the Lord. My time on this earth with her was limited, but my time with her in Heaven will be eternal. The joy that temporal things provide will come to an end. They momentarily satisfy but leave the soul empty. Setting our hearts on this present life is, to use Jesus’ words, putting our treasure where thieves steal and moths and rust destroy (Matthew 6:19). Which is why we must strain to see eternity, that which lasts forever, and put our focus there.
Excerpted with permission from Breathe Again by Stacy Henagan, copyright Stacy Henagan.
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Maybe this year has included losses so great that grief is nearly unbearable this Christmas. Maybe like Stacy and Casey you’ve lost a child or a loved one in death and Heaven came very, very close. Let’s focus on eternity together and keep our eyes there. This world is only temporary; it’s not our home. We join together with our brothers and sisters who are mourning in this season of also rejoicing. Come share your comments with us. We want to hear from you. ~ Devotionals Daily