A couple days ago I met Rick and Lynn, two great people I wish I would have met under better circumstances. On September 11th, while the nation remembered and grieved the terrorist attack that took place nine years ago, that was the furthest thing from their minds. Because after a grueling three-year-battle with bone cancer (osteogenic sarcoma), that was the day they lost their 15-year-old son Jonah.
Parents aren’t supposed to outlive their children.
Tomorrow (September 17th at 10:30am) I am officiating the funeral and it will be held at Woodside Bible Church. I hope their auditorium is standing-room-only so that Rick and Lynn and Jonah’s younger brothers Caleb and Luke know just how much they are loved. And I pray that those who attend don’t just tell them, “If there is anything I can do…” but instead that they are compelled by God to do something tangible. Give them money for the cremation. Buy them groceries. Cut their lawn. Cry with them.
The toughest part of the ceremony for me and probably for those attending as well will be when I read a letter that Lynn wrote to Jonah after he passed away. I just finished reading it, to familiarize myself with it so that I won’t stumble with the words . . . and I broke down crying. I don’t have permission to share it with you so I won’t. But it compelled me to write this post.
I wanted to share with you how I am going to end the service tomorrow. I am going to read from Revelation 21:1-4 and then give some thoughts about it. Here goes . . .
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
In heaven, there is no illness. There is no death. There is no pain.
In heaven, there is no osteogenic sarcoma. There is no chemo. There are no hospitals. There are no wheelchairs.
Those things are part of our world. Those things are part of the old order of things. And in heaven, the old order of things has passed away. These words from the apostle John paint a beautiful picture of what Jonah is experiencing right now.