April 6, 2020
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I had the last handful of dirt. Many of our dear Native American friends had led the way. They really loved my Karen. As I threw mine into that six-foot hole, I spoke three words engraved inside our wedding rings, "Til Jesus comes." And then just quietly I said, "See you soon, baby." And I know I will because of Easter. Easter didn't stop the tears. Easter didn't cushion her adoring grandchildren from the shock that they would not see again on this earth the one whose hugs and laugh and love had lit up their lives. Neither would I. Neither would her children who never stopped depending on her prayer and her wisdom. Easter doesn't shield us from the grim reality of the casket, that hole in the ground, the empty blue recliner. Or the gut-wrenching emotional ambushes when the "I'm missing her" feelings that usually whisper, suddenly scream. But the reality of that empty tomb near a skull-shaped hill in Jerusalem is a game-changer in so many ways. For the one by the grave, and the one in the grave on both sides of the dirt.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Easter...On Both Sides of the Dirt."
To be sure, most religions offer some form of hope beyond the grave. But no real evidence that they can deliver on that hope.
And then there's Jesus. Who is, in the Bible's words, and our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Peter 1:3, "a living hope." And it's with proof, because it says, "Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Eyewitnesses - hundreds of them - followers who saw Jesus, dying because they wouldn't deny it, written contemporary history, and the power elite of government and religion, desperately wielding their power to prove Jesus wasn't alive - and they couldn't.
There is no need to speak of Jesus in the past tense. He's alive now. He's our future. And because He's proven He has eternal life, He's the One who can give eternal life. So it wasn't just some religious cop-out for me to look in that grave and know that my Karen wasn't there. Oh, her "earth suit" was - the body we need for this life, like an astronaut needs his space suit for the moon. But the real Karen - her soul - never stopped living.
When the thief on the cross next to Jesus expressed faith in Him, Jesus made this astonishing statement: "Today you will be with Me in paradise" (Matthew 23:43). I believe that's what He said to my Karen that May afternoon in our living room.
Standing by her grave, I remembered her actual new address: "away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8). That's why I call that May 16th her "Homegoing." That Easter reality didn't erase what I lost that day. Karen was with Jesus. I wasn't. But because our death-crushing Jesus promised that "because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19), grief doesn't own the death scale. There's something on the other side. Something more powerful. It's called hope. Separation now. Reunion coming!
Since Karen went Home, I kept finding journals of hers. They are essentially heart-dumps to Jesus. And they reflect a vibrant love for Him. She signs her prayers, "Your loving daughter, Karen." Many times I've stood in church with my arm around her waist as we joined in singing praises to Jesus. What blows me away is thinking she is now singing those songs face-to-face with Him!
Although she impacted - even rescued - many lives, she always had a hard time accepting my assurances of the difference that she was making for Christ. She knows now. He's told her Himself. I just love thinking that this incomparable woman I did life with is now experiencing what the Bible says, "no eye has seen, no ear has heard" (1 Corinthians 2:9).
But what about us on "the other side of the dirt"? Suddenly doing life without her. God says He is "close to the brokenhearted" (Psalm 34:18). All I can tell you is this living Savior has been closer to me these past three years than in all my life before.
I want to invite you if you've never made sure you have a relationship with Him, that you belong to Jesus, that you get that taken care of today. The power of Jesus' resurrection has taken my greatest treasure from her last heartbeat to His heaven and resurrected the broken man she left here, giving me so much hope it's overflowing into many other grieving hearts.
Make sure you belong to Jesus. And if you're not, go to our website and get the information you need - ANewStory.com. He's walked with me every step through "the valley of the shadow." I know He'll walk with you all the way home.