At Sam’s memorial service, we asked the congregation to sing “Be Still My Soul,” which concludes with this verse:
Be still my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrows forgot, love’s purest joys restored
Be still my soul: when change and fears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
As I sang those lines, I felt myself longing for Heaven for the first time. I’d never doubted eternity with God; I’d always known it would be wonderful when I got there; I’d mentally hoped for it as a resolution to pain and brokenness of the world. But I’d never really felt an urgency about it until that night.
I wanted to hold my son in my arms again, to tousle his hair and hear his voice, to see his face lit up with happiness or furrowed in thought. I wanted to know if he’d be athletic, funny, messy, or shy. Despite the fact that he was my constant companion for seven months, Sam was a stranger to me in so many ways.
I felt his absence acutely: I had planned that this year’s Christmas picture would feature Stephen and I holding our two kids on our laps. But Abby’s little brother was gone before she ever got a chance to meet him. Stephen and I would never look around and see our whole family around the dinner table.
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last. What a hope: to see my son again, to introduce him to his sister, finally to get the four of us together for that photo (surely, in Heaven, we’ll all look great in the first shot!).
…and, oh yes, to see Jesus. I remembered this a few days later.
The fact that God himself was such an afterthought brought me up a little short. Seeing the earth restored will be good. Seeing Sam and my other loved ones will be better. But the real hope of Heaven is not either of those promises. The hope of Heaven is Christ and His presence. He is the only one that will fill my empty places and satisfy all of my desires.
I’ll have to be content to wait for Heaven to get to know Sam. But Jesus, the greater joy, is available to me now. I can sit in his presence, I can read his words, I can listen to the thoughts of others who know him well. Now the real question is, will I seek him like the treasure he is?