He would have been 25 years old today.
That leaves us with so many unanswerable questions. What would his life be like if he had lived? It’s hard not to think about that. But on the other hand we have been through six seasons of reminders, memories, and questions. Birthdays, Thanksgivings, Christmases and Easters. And yes, THAT DAY … it comes around every year. As long as we live I don’t think that a birthday will pass without us ruminating a bit about the 18 years we had with him.
This year what strikes me is not so much what he might have been had he lived a longer life here … but what is he now that he is with the Lord? I doubt there is much comparison!
I believe that he IS. It’s hard for us to speak of those who have passed from this life without using the past tense. We talk about them being ‘lost’ or ‘gone too soon’ – and we certainly understand this. But at the heart of the Christian faith is the reality of the resurrection. Our son is not gone, neither is he lost. He presently is alive and truly more alive than he has ever been. When we speak of him in the past tense, we mean only his earthly life.
I believe that he is not very impressed with a 25th birthday! He is in an eternal state. We are told that with the Lord a thousand years is like a single day. We find it remarkable when someone’s earthly journey passes the 100 year mark. In an eternal view, that is barely more than a melancholy sigh or the flash from a camera.
I believe that he is safer and better taken care of than he has ever been. I think we were good parents, but there is a Father who surpasses all earthly efforts. John Robert is in the hands of a powerful and capable God who loved him so much that he allowed his own son to die to save us all. God chose him, redeemed him, sanctified him, gave him new life and a song in his heart. Nothing can separate John Robert from the love of Christ.
For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! ~ Romans 8:38-39
I believe he wouldn’t come back if given the opportunity. When the Apostle Paul was given a vision of heaven he declared that he was incapable of writing of the beauty that the witnessed there. Apostle John related the glory of heaven in the only terms he could use … gold, pearls, jewels, stunning stones of amazing quality … rivers and trees and a powerful God in the center who is it’s light. Though John Robert loved his family and friends deeply, he has a new perspective of life that has him awaiting us … not desiring to rejoin us.
I believe this is all more than wishful thinking. I’ll join with great heroes of the Bible in believing and living for God – the ONLY promise that I will see my son again.
I believe, as did Abraham, that God has the power and willingness to bring life to the dead. Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. (Hebrews 11:9)
I’ll join with King David who said following the death of his infant son, “I’ll go to him, but he will never return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:23)
I take courage from the prophet Isaiah. “He will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face
and remove His people’s disgrace from the whole earth, for the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 25:8)
I understand Martha in the heartsick grief in the loss of her beloved brother.
Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Yet even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.” “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her. Martha said, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she told Him, “I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.” ~John 11:21-26
I’m so thankful for plain spoken Martha who said what every grieving person thinks … God should have been here to stop death. Jesus’ words of comfort might have been encouraging, but they would take on new relevance three days after he died.
Jesus Christ our Lord…who has been declared to be the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness. (Romans 1:3-4 )
But the angel told the women, “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead. (Matthew 28:5-7)
In the end, it is the empty tomb that empowers every claim of Christ and the prophets who spoke of him in the ancient days. The empty tomb speaks to me a blessed truth … John Robert is still alive, he is in an eternal state, and he is awaiting his family to join him.
D. L. Moody said,
Oh, the cruelty of unbelief! It takes away our brightest hopes. …. I want a religion that can comfort even in death, that can unite me with my loved ones. Oh, what gloom and darkness would settle upon this world if it were not for the glorious doctrine of the resurrection! Thank God, the glorious morning will soon break. For a little while God asks us to be the watchtower, faithful to Him and waiting for the summons. Soon our Lord will come to receive His own, whether they be living or dead. (LINK)
So happy birthday John Robert. When we join you and the Ancient of Days for eternity so many of the hurts of this life will be in the forgotten past. I share these thoughts as a cathartic way to remind myself of what really matters on this day. My birthday wishes? I wish that everyone would follow the Savior who loves them with His whole heart. Thanks for reading.