As I sat there off to the right about three quarters of the way back, I was frustrated with myself for picking a seat where I could see everything. I didn’t want to see anything. There was a line of people extending from the front of the room all the way to the back, and well past the doors. I wasn’t interested in the line. No way was I going to do that. I’m not a fan of open casket funerals. Something about it just creeps me out. I’m sure that says something bad about me, but it is what it is. Eventually the directors asked everyone to take a seat. The service needed to get started. More importantly, Matthew’s parents wanted one last moment alone with him. So they stood there. Starring at him.
Thousands of thoughts were flying around in my mind, but this one stood out the most. “How do you stand there and look at your child lying in a casket?” I can’t even imagine. I don’t want to imagine.
But then as they sat down on the front row, and the man who must have the worst job in the world prepared the casket to be closed for the last time, I couldn’t help but want the seconds to tick by just a bit slower. Because as they starred at their little five-year-old boy, as they watched as the casket was being closed, it was their last seconds to see their child’s face. I almost stood up and ran to the front, yelling, “Wait! Wait!”, so I could go hold the casket open myself so Matthew’s parents could hold on to him, so they could see him for just a moment more.
In a spilt second I went from not knowing how I would look, to not knowing how I would look away.
Jesus talked about the great reversal of things. Of course, he didn’t call it that. That’s just what we call it. He said more moving things like, the blind will see, the lame will walk, the last will be first, the least will be greatest, and the dead will live again. Most of these things we cannot understand. Outside of simply seeing a broken bone regenerate itself and return to its original strength, we cannot understand the more significant thing going on here. We cannot understand it beyond its most basic implication–that there is more to the story than we can currently see and grasp. All we can be sure of, is that there is a reality beyond the reality we find ourselves in.
That doesn’t make our reality any less real. It doesn’t make us any less angry. It doesn’t give us any answers whatsoever as to why 5-year olds have to die of leukemia. It doesn’t make us wonder if God needs a little mentoring.
All we can be sure of is that life is hard, things don’t make sense, people are our most important and precious treasure and the children that God allows us to call our own for as long as he allows us to call them our own are infinitely valuable beyond description. May we live in such a way that we believe that.