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  • Writer's pictureSteve McAtee

Death-Laden Anxiety Ushered Into the Land of the Living

Picture an hourglass with tears of grief cascading into its upper chamber. The moisture of each tear carries grief, loneliness, disappointment, and shame, forming grains of lament. Now that Jack is gone, the future I had embraced for him has been destroyed. For 27 years I guarded and sustained and encouraged him. I helped him grow to become a man of his own. And then, he died in the Colorado wilderness all alone.

The cords of death entangled me,

the anguish of the grave came over me;

I was overcome by distress and sorrow. (Psalm 116:3)

Each tearful grain funneling down through a narrow aperture. Slipping grain by grain through the neck of the glass. As I watched them flow, I questioned whether I would ever emerge from shrouds of darkness. In grey quiet, I watched the grains slowly make their way through the aperture. As more and more of them slid though the tiny opening, my ears began to hear a message that relief and peace were on their way. A glimmer of light slowly evolved into the light of a thousand dawns. I came to understand more deeply how precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;

he heard my cry for mercy. (Psalm 116:1)

When the panorama of scenes from Jack’s life plays over and over in my mind, I can only imagine when that day comes and I find myself standing in the sun with Jack, surrounded by glory. It will be a time to dance, a time to feel pure love like we’ve never felt or even imagined. The McAtee family loves a good party here on earth; I can only imagine our gatherings there. Oh, my.

One thing I can say, the hollow feeling and death-laden anxiety I experience in missing Jack is now consistently mingled with experiences of God’s graciousness where I clearly see His mercy and salvation. My thoughts of Jack drop grain by grain through the neck of the glass, expanding into a place with breathing room, a place where I feel the snares of death and the painful grief suddenly become a rich and bountiful life. This is the thanksgiving and freedom that flows into the lower chamber of the hourglass, where I am set free in the land of the living.

Sometimes I feel my search for Jack was really God’s search for me. I hear Him so much more clearly than before. His voice is always there – kind, gentle, understanding, loving. How can it be that such tragedy has yielded such a treasure as an ever-deepening friendship with Jesus? It’s God’s way that we may be held in the loving arms of the Master while we lament, only to open our senses to the awe of heaven, the land of the living. Eventually, His voice will become music to our ears …

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,

my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling

that I may walk before the Lord

in the land of the living. (Psalm 116:8-9)

And be reunited with Jack, and all our family, with Jesus when He comes. Don't miss it, I want to see you there too...….

I want to see you there too......

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Allison Brown
Allison Brown
May 06, 2019

Steve, this is just beautiful.

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