Gone before their time. We say this when we lose a baby. A child. A teenager. A young woman or man. A mum or dad. A young grandparent. A new retiree.
Despite the trials and hurt that can be experienced on this earth, we still recognize the blessing of life. We understand the joy in being given the opportunity to live in a world where we can experience love, joy, dreams and all the best things life can offer.
We don’t think of all the pain a person will miss when they die young. We think about the good things they never get to touch, feel or experience. We think of our own loss; of the memories we won’t be able to share with them.
The heartbreak of a father not being able to walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day, or the mum who won’t get to see her son play their favourite game on Saturday. The grandparent that didn’t get to meet their future grandchildren or the generations after them, and the child that never got to graduate from school and live in the big wide open world.
Gone before their time is a phrase of tragedy. But it can be viewed differently when we understand the Easter message and why God sent Jesus to die on the cross.
Eternity was set in our hearts from the moment we were created but we all know that nothing on this earth lasts forever. The fall made certain of that. But if we view life on this side of eternity, it’s hopeless and depressing. Understanding that there is a life beyond the one we live offers hope and gratitude of a glorious future.
God’s dreams for our lives don’t die the day we breathe our last breath. His plans for our life extend beyond our physical life on this Earth. I take heart from this because if there are dreams I never get to see happen this side of life, I know they will definitely take place in the next one.
But there is still a purpose to the life we live now and God still speaks to us and directs us in this life so that the plans He has for us do come to fruition – providing we are obedient and can discern His voice through the noise of the world.
In 2004, the year before I had Esther, I had a vision. I had got up early to spend time reading my Bible and praying. For some reason I didn’t need to be at work early, so I had time to not rush by taking in the words and uttering prayers that were on my heart.
I was desperate to hear from God. So desperate. I wanted to hear from him. I wanted to see him. I didn’t consider the consequences of such a request. I remember praying with my eyes open, hands open to the air, uttering my prayers, wanting to pray for so many things, but overwhelmed with my many concerns. I think at the time I was concerned about difficulties with my plumbing apprenticeship and asking if plumbing was all there was for this girl who had dreamed of more. After a few moments I saw images – a vision started to play out on the tree outside my bedroom window. I was transfixed. I couldn’t take my eyes away. I was scared but also in awe of what was being revealed to me.
I was emotionally very moved by what I saw. As a result of seeing this vision I was half an hour late to work. Thankfully my dad knew that if I was late there was a pretty good reason for it.
It was this vision that cemented my faith in God, and I believed without a doubt that God was real, and I viewed the Bible as truth and a guide to help me live the life God had called me to live.
Having grown up in a family that has believed in God for generations, there were times when I doubted God’s existence. That doubt would occur over a prayer not answered, a healing not granted, just managing through difficult times and simple questions over why God didn’t step in to stop tragedies happen around the world. Surely if God loved us dearly, he would step in and save it from evil that would happen – like terrorism?
But God did step in. He stepped in over 2000 years ago by sending his Son Jesus to die on a cross. The Easter message is one of hope and gratitude: that a God who made us, whom we rejected, still did what was needed to reconcile a relationship back to Him. It’s a true story about love. Death isn’t the end no matter how much evil likes to cut lives short from their purpose.
Why the gore? Why couldn’t God just ‘fix’ our relationship with the snap of his fingers? Quite simply there is a spiritual world that required to be overthrown and Jesus birth and resurrection was the only way to fix the spiritual in the natural world.
The message of love at Easter often gets missed or ignored because of the public holidays, the chocolate eggs and hunting for a bunny. It often overshadows the true questions about why we are here and what God and Jesus have to do with us.
But if we take part in traditions, and forget why Easter is celebrated and remembered, we’ve missed a greater truth about what this life is about and why faith in Jesus is a must both now and in the days ahead.
We often want to know where our loved ones go beyond the grave and the only ones that know are God himself and the individual – whether they chose to believe or not. Fear can’t be what drives us to God. A genuine curiosity into faith compels us to understand more. Understanding what true love is and what faith is about will give us wisdom to live in the days ahead.
Easter is a wonderful time of year to act on that curiosity and for those of us that do believe, to thank God for sending his son to endure a cruel death for our reconciliation back to Him.
From my family to yours, I hope you are able to spend some quiet time reflecting on what you believe. I hope you can understand how deeply God loves you, and his plans for your future are brighter than you could dream or imagine.
The days ahead on this earth are not going to get easier and there will be loud voices that will throw you off on what you should believe, but rather than live like a reed that sways in the wind, draw in truth so you can stand like a tree, a tree that can withstand the greatest storm.
Have a safe and blessed Easter.