Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Last Parent

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me......to comfort all that mourn."
Isaiah 61:1-2 (KJV)

There is something beyond sad about losing your last parent.

Knowing you are fatherless and motherless is an overwhelming, all-consuming grief.

I remember talking to my friend, Anita after her second parent had died.
She was mourning and her grief was almost more than she could bear.
I remember she looked at me and said,
"Cheryl, I am an adult orphan.
Your children are your future,
but your parents are your past...your history."

Knowing she had lost that final link...to her past....left her with a pain so intense...a hurt so deep.
She was near inconsolable.
I never forgot her words.

Jesus suffered and experienced every, single pain of the human condition...in one form or another.
Hebrews 4:15 (KJV) says,
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
(Emphasis mine.)

The other day it occurred to me that Jesus' mother didn't die before He did.
I recalled the fact that Mary was there...at the crucifixion.

I began to have this conversation with the Lord.

"Lord, You didn't have to go through this...this pain of losing your Mother."

Immediately, He took me to the scene...on Mt. Calvary.
Right before He died.

I could almost see Him there.  He was hanging on the cross.
As always when I am thinking of Him and His great sacrifice, I began to feel a deep sense of anguish thinking of what He went through.
The guiltless for the guilty.
The pure for the defiled.
On the scales of justice, balance just can't be found....in His case.

And though I find every, single aspect of His agonizing death deeply moving, He took me to the scene of one of the most touching parts of the process.
It was the moment He expressed His profound concern and feelings about leaving His mother, Mary.

She was His last earthly parent.

The Bible does not tell us when His earthly father, Joseph, passed away.
But, we can correctly assume that he had already passed by the time Jesus died on the cross.
Otherwise, he would have been there.
I have no doubt.

Jesus had to bear the pain of losing the man who raised Him.
The man who took on the responsibility of bringing up the Son who wasn't really his.
The man who taught Him to build things...though He was the Creator of the wood.
The man who shielded His mother from scorn and rebuke when she was found with child...before marriage.

Now, as He hung there, bleeding, dying, quickly approaching His last breath, the pain of separation from His last earthly parent....His mother.....overwhelmed Him.  
She would not die and leave Him...as is the natural course of life.
Contrariwise, it was God's will that He would die and leave her.
The pain of separation....of losing His mother and her losing Him was the same.

The very same intensity and hurt as when we lose our Mothers.

The human tie would soon be severed.
Life would never be the same.
She would mourn the loss of her firstborn Son....for the rest of her days on earth.

As He hung there, the stark realization....the deep hurt of all of this, must have swept over Him with overwhelming pain.
I saw it...in my mind's eye.

Up until now, He had been there for her.
Though she was a widow, she had Him....to take care of things.
Soon, He wouldn't be there...in the flesh...as He had always been until now.

He looked down from the cross at her.
He was watching her, seeing her tears wrenched from a place so deep that only He and His Father could identify.
His heart broke...the ties of love were so strong.

It was as profound and just as real as the shattered pieces of what used to be my heart.
He felt this.  He experienced it.  He was tempted in this point....just like me.
Just as keenly.

The bond between mother and child is so intense.

Memories must have flooded His mind.
Yearnings for things to be back to normal again.
 To go back and sit at her table and enjoy another meal.
Oh, for one more chance to work on another project with her!
There would be no more opportunities for Him to lighten her load...to fix her problems...to feel her touch...to hear her comforting voice when things went wrong....to feel the nurturing that came from her mother-heart.
No more moments of laughter in the family homeplace.
It was all over.
How He would miss it all!
How He would miss her!

For over 33 years, she had loved Him, cared about Him, enjoyed Him...her very special and firstborn Son.
The Son Who came to her in such an unusual way.
For over 33 years, He had lived, laughed, and loved....her and everything she had done for Him.
She must have been such a big part of every, single memory that was playing over and over in His mind.

There would be no more memories.
These were the final moments.
He couldn't reach her...from the cross.
To dry her tears...to console her...His hands were tied....with nails.

She couldn't wipe the blood flowing from His head...into His eyes.
She couldn't kiss His forehead....unfasten the nails....or pull Him off the cross.

I can just picture His face....the depths of emotion in His eyes...as they moved from Mary to John.
John!
His beloved, faithful, disciple...the man who was also His cousin, the son of His mother's sister.
Life had been good growing up together.
How happy it must have made Him when His Father allowed Him to choose him...to be one of the 12...one of the 3 in His inner circle.
It was fitting that he was there..standing nearby.
Hadn't he always remained true....steadfast.....intensely loyal.

Suddenly, He knew the remedy!
He knew what He needed to say....to ease the pain of separation....to bring the closest thing to comfort either of them could feel.
What He was getting ready to say...the words that were being wrenched from His parched throat...would effect the rest of their lives.

He looked at Mary and said, "Woman, behold thy son!"

His eyes went back to John, and He said, "Behold thy mother!"

The impact of His words was not lost to either of them.
They knew.
John would take full responsibility for Mary....as if he were her natural-born son.
Mary would assume the role of John's mother....as if she had given birth to him.
Both would love and care for the other....as if they were truly mother and son.
John would take His place...to a certain degree.
Jesus wanted it that way.
It gave Him comfort to know that the arrangement had been made...and accepted.....by both of them.

Losing Dad almost 12 years ago, was near unbearable pain.
I didn't think I could get through it.
But by God's grace and providential care, I still had Mom....she was a pillar of strength to me.
She shared the sorrow.
We held each other up.
The support was always there.

Even though Dad was gone....I still had Mom.
I still had a connection....to my past...my history.

Losing Mom....losing that last link.....knowing I am an adult orphan....is a feeling that, without God, would be completely impossible to get through.

My last parent.
The pains of separation are so intense.
The finality so inconceivable.

I cannot do another thing for Mom.
I cannot buy her another rose.
I cannot take her out for a drive.
We can't shop together.
We can't eat out together.
I can't sit with her when she is lonely.
She can't talk to me telling me everything is going to be okay.
If I drive by her little apartment, I will not find the pink and purple wreath on her door.
Someone else is probably living there now.
I will hear no more of the stories from her past....how I wish I would have listened closer!
So many details I must have missed.
I'll never be able to ask her anything....ever again.

Jesus understands this....all of this.
He did experience it.
He remembers it....completely.

He did the one thing that gave Him peace...as He was leaving her.
He placed her in safe hands.
He relinquished her care to someone who would see her through.

Today, it occurred to me that I have been abundantly blessed to do the same.
When I stood by Mom's dying bedside, and I held her little, frail, bruised hand, I begged Jesus.....
to take her hand.
I told Him that I could only hold it for a short time...that I knew He could hold it forever.
I relinquished her care to the One who would see her through.
I have placed her in the safest of hands.
Where she will stay...forever.





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