The other day I came across a sentence written in the margin of my Bible.
“Behold the glory of Jesus!”
It was dated January 27, 2013.
I stopped in my tracks, stunned. I had no recollection that I wrote it, but there it was in my handwriting.
The date was merely two days after the death of my husband. No wonder I don’t remember the words! But the day itself is extremely vivid.
It was the first worship gathering after Jon died. Though I was still in shock, I was compelled to be with the church. Grief crushed me like a freight train, but I had to go. God’s grace was tangible. The Holy Spirit’s presence was so powerful, almost physical.
I was surrounded by so many who loved me. That day I knew my church was family. Every person wanted to bear the weight of sorrow with me. Tears flowed freely. No one seemed to want to leave. My husband was also deeply loved.
I scanned down the page of my Bible, trying to recall the sermon. I don’t remember it, but somehow, “behold the glory of Jesus” broke through the fog.
As I read the passage my pastor must have preached, I landed on some tough stuff.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
And then I remembered. When I heard those words two days after my greatest fear became reality, I thought “Yes, my heart is heaven. My treasure is there because that’s where Jon is.”
Somehow I think “behold the glory of Jesus” was the response I wanted to have.
But at two days, my most cognizant thoughts were “I just want him back, or God, you could just take me there too? Please.” I longed for heaven because Jon was there.
Over time, I’ve pondered “treasure” often. To treasure something is to value it highly. An ultimate treasure is what we value most highly, that which takes precedence over all. It’s the thing that captures our attention and holds sway over our emotions.
I’ve reached some difficult conclusions. Jon cannot be my ultimate treasure, but Jesus must be.
I’m reminded of another passage.
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73: 25-26)
What? Does your jaw drop to the floor like mine did? I’ve read this verse so many times, but now it carries radically new significance.
I do have someone in heaven. The man with whom I wanted to grow old, the man I adored is there.
And you’re telling me that the psalmist said he had only God?
Well surely Asaph, the Psalm singer, must have experienced the death of a loved one?
Probably, but he made a definitive point that God was the satisfier of his soul. No one else he loved could compare.
God was the captor of his primary affection, his ultimate treasure. Like the Psalmist, I am learning that Jesus is the best thing.
It’s tempting to remember my husband through only rose-colored memories. He was wonderful, but he was also fallible. He loved me, but he also failed me, as I did him. Yet Jesus never fails.
Now let me clarify, to treasure Christ above all does not mean I love Jon any less. But it does mean I want my love for God to be so exponential, that love for Jon seems paltry in comparison.
That’s hard thing to hear. I know. It’s a hard thing to write.
A song I love called “Bare White Walls,” beautifully expresses truth.
“Whom have I in heaven but you? There is nobody. There is nobody. If heaven’s just a room with bare white walls and you and me, that’s all I’ll ever need.
My kids, my wife (insert husband here), my job, my car, my friends, my health, my heart, they fail me. But you don’t fail me. Whom have I in heaven but you? There is nobody.
When I compare your glory with these present pleasantries, they don’t matter. And when I compare your glory with these present sufferings, they don’t matter.”
I’ve found that the more I know God, the more I treasure Him. The more I dwell on the realities of the death and resurrection of Christ, the more I am mesmerized by Him. I have learned what it is to long for Jesus.
When I was crushed by a freight train, when I longed to go where Jon was, even then my soul grasped for truth. My emotions screamed the opposite, but the Holy Spirit broke through the fog.
“Behold the glory of Jesus!”
Heaven isn’t heaven because Jon is there. It’s heaven because Jesus is there.
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