A wedding by a glassy sea -

"This is the story of the Son of God, hanging on a cross for me...."

I have something to share with you....it might shock you and it might not. If you know me well enough,  you will probably not be very shocked, if you don't know me at all, you might think it too dramatic. 

Here it is: I wouldn't be here if the Gospel wasn't real. 

You might not think that's shocking. Okay, that's alright. But listen - I really wouldn't. I would not come here, on this blog, and write words and try to touch your hearts if I didn't believe it is TRUE. 

Some days, just as it should be ... the Gospel hits me hard. Right in the place where you've told yourself that fear-driven repentance is okay as long as He forgives you the same. It's not. Joy-based repentance is what the Gospel gives you, because you didn't pay any of your own redemption. Jesus paid it all. 

When I was little, I was sure that life would be like childhood.....we grow up, we get married, we have children....we spend summers at the beach and we take them on vacations and we have 4th of July parties and Christmas drop-ins and our kids grow up with our best friend's kids and life is great. 

I never thought of cancer. I never thought of infections. I never thought of funerals or graves. 

But my life has been full of those, especially in the last 3 years. Friends all around me, suffering loss, me with my already breaking heart, just grieving right along with them. Weeping with those who weep. Last summer it seemed to me that was all I did. I went to funerals. For 4 months. 5 funerals. In 4 months. 

By the time my Grandmother's funeral rolled around, it was the 5th one, and I put on my makeup, and I braided up my hair and took up my shawl, and I stood right there where grass was torn away and the dirt heaved up to leave a deep hole for her shell to be lowered into, awaiting the day when her spirit will join with her body. I stood there, in knowing quiet. This was what I did now. I knew this. 

I think more than anything I was stunned that someone who grieved so much in the past few months could still be living. It all shocked me into a silence so deep I could hear my heart screaming for air. 

because How could this be? 

It will be 1 year soon. On June 2nd, it will be 1 year since my world shattered and dreams ended when I read Avery was gone.  Nothing could have ever prepared me for that moment. Not even much grief from a terrible previous year. Not even the night before's bad news over and over. Not even the slight chance he might not make it. 

Life slammed to a halt. And then the nightmare started, one split second as my heart stopped beating. Everything I thought could be/would be ..... would not be in this life. Such a heart-breaking moment!! One of the hardest things about grief for me is not that I think that God isn't powerful enough to heal, it is that I KNOW that He IS. I know He is fully God, fully Healer, fully holy, He IS all that He says He is. 

And His will was to not heal Avery here on this earth. In this short expanse of life. 
There are no reasons, no explanations given. There are no words, and there is no understanding it. 

It is here that Heaven makes all the difference. 
It is here that as RC Jr. says "Jesus changes everything.".
 It is here that lines come down to a very thin margin, and either it is all true, or it isn't
It is here that the gospel reminds us that this is the middle of the story. 
All behind us is the beginning, we are here in this short breath of life, and then - life forever. 

I remember standing on Tennessee ground on June 9th, 2012, the day we buried Avery, and telling myself over and over and over - "He is not here. He is not here. He is not here. He is not here. He is not here. He is not here.". 
Because I knew more than anything in that moment, that Avery was with God. He was not in that beautiful box his daddy made for him. He was not being lowered into the grave. He was not there. He was in the presence of the King of Kings. He was ALIVE, more fully alive than we ever have been!

The most beautiful thing in that moment as I swayed in the wind to keep from falling to my knees was knowing that this was not the end. This was not the end of Avery's life. This is not the end at all. 

As it draws nearer to the date, to that week....the memories flood in. Perhaps not let in so much as pure inability to keep so much at bay. I find myself easily in tears. I find myself easily in disbelief it is true.

It will not be an easy anniversary, and I covet your prayers for me, and for John and Audra, for their parents and their families and loved ones and for everyone who knew and loved the sunshiney little boy who almost never cried, who wore the name Avery with the sweetest smile of joy. 

The gospel is this: Christ died for His bride to make her His own, and paid her debt to make her holy. 
Christ made Avery whole in a way that we still long for. We are beautiful in a way that only He sees. 
It is the Gospel that tells us we are loved in a way we can only begin to dream of. 

"This is the story of the Son of God, hanging on a cross for me. 
But it ends with a bride and groom and a wedding by a glassy sea." 

I want to share this song with you. Every time I hear it, I melt into tears. It is my reminder - this is not all there is. There is a day when this life will be a glorious blur of the goodness of the Lord, and I will take my Savior's hand, and look into His glorious face, and know no greater joy. 

My first thought of a glassy sea was this river dam that Mom and I went to the day after Avery's funeral in TN. When I woke up that day, I knew I needed to be outside, being busy, so we headed off to find somewhere beautiful to be. And we ended up high on this mountain to see the dam for the Caney Fork River. The water was this black, deep river on one side, and then the lake for the dam was this stunning aqua/turquoise water that was unbelievable in color. It was surrounded by these vibrant green trees and a beautiful cool wind was blowing. And that is what I thought of when I thought "glassy sea". I barely edited these photos, that is really what the water looked like. Amazing. 

You can listen along to the song by The City Harmonic here....and read the lyrics with the photos. 

"This is the story of the Son of God, hanging on a cross for me. 
But it ends with a bride and groom and a wedding by a glassy sea."

Oh death, where is your sting? 'Cause I'll be there singing: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!

This is the story of a bride in white, waiting on her wedding day. 
Anticipation welling up inside while her groom is crowned a King! 

Oh death, where is your sting? 'Cause I'll be there singing: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!

Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty! 
Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, (Who was, and is and is to come) is the Lord Almighty! 

This is the story of the Son of God hanging on a cross for me! Holy, holy, holy, holy!
And it ends with a bride and groom and a wedding by a glassy sea! 
Holy, holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty! 

This is the story of a bride in white, singing on her wedding day! Holy, holy, holy, holy! 

Altogether all that was, and is, can stand before her God and sing: 
Holy, holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty!

Holy, holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty!" 

"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.
Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down 
out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 
"Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." 

Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My Son." 
~ Revelation 21:1-7 ~ 

This story ... it hurts so incredibly much right now. But as I like to remind myself - We are not Home yet. This is the middle of the story, and the glorious reunion and wedding and feast are yet to come!

We hold on with hope, because this is a story of redemption, of glory, of love and ultimately, of LIFE.

May the Lord make this nearer and dearer to my heart every day I live,
With much love, and many tears,
~ Jean Marie ~