On the way to preschool last week we passed a bad car accident. Immediately Mac and I started praying for the people involved and the people who were coming to care for them. We finished our prayer and I still didn’t hear any sirens. The accident just happened, but I thought for sure the emergency response vehicles would be on their way by then.
Just as I was starting to feel anxious about how long it was taking, I saw a police officer on a motor cycle turn on his lights and come through our intersection, followed by an ambulance, then a fire truck, and another police car. We sat waiting at that intersection several minutes for all of the various rescue people get to the scene of the accident. And although I was expecting all of these vehicles, I didn’t expect to feel such sadness and start crying. I wanted to have a full on cry but my kids were with me. I let Mac chatter on, while I pulled myself together.
For some reason an ambulance siren can trigger PTSD in me so deep I didn’t even know it was down there so far. The logical part of me can not fully override the feelings that I associate with that sound or that sight.
For me those lights and siren signal the contrast between life and death. When there is a physical trauma, medical treatment is given. There’s two options. Either someone lives. Or someone dies. It’s a stark contrast and it’s very sobering. And I don’t know why other people may see those same lights, hear those same sounds, and don’t at all think on such heavy things. It makes me feel both silly for feeling so deeply, and shocked that others don’t.
We’ve spent too much time in ambulances. Me twice when I was pregnant with Mac. Nathan twice in his short almost two years of life. Once was medical transport from his delivery hospital to the Children’s hospital. The sirens weren’t on but I sat in the front seat next to the driver trying to make conversation as my four-week-old baby was vigilantly watched in the back by a neonatal nurse and two respiratory therapists. I know some people have had more rides, but to me this is a lot. It’s a lot of drama and tension in a story that I wish I could write differently.
The rest of the car ride to school Mac was asking me lots about what happens when you die. I don’t think his thoughts about death and burials were consciously related to just passing an accident, but it was for me. He was asking why do we bury people after they die? After we go to heaven and get new bodies, will those new bodies die one day? Even if someone is dead, can you still look at pictures of them? (That one was more of his statement of comfort to himself.)
I told Mac that God gives you a physical body when you are down here on Earth, but who you really are is contained within your spirit. You need to have a body to walk and run and talk and eat on Earth. Then when you die, if you believe Jesus died for your sins, you go to heaven and get a new body. It’s a spiritual body, because you don’t need the one you had down here.
While my five-year-old was struggling to understand this distinction between the physical world and the spiritual world, I was too. His struggle was to imagine life apart from the five senses. My struggle (although I also find it hard to imagine) is why aren’t we all there yet? There has been so much struggle and brokenness in our family in the last few years. It’s glaringly obvious to me that we were made for a far more perfect place than on this planet, which sustains human life from a fading star. I desperately want his brother’s body to be fully healed and whole. It’s easy for me to think that he got a bad break. A bum physical body. One that doesn’t function all that well on planet Earth where he needs to eat by a feeding tube, walk with a medical device, and can’t talk and communicate with his fellow human beings. I don’t get it. In some ways we are forced to think of life or death everyday at our house. Whether we hear sirens and flashing lights or not. Every day we long for a perfected place and a perfected being in Nathan.
Now that Easter is right around the corner, God is using Nathan to point out a completely different type of brokenness. The kind that resides in my heart in the form of impatience, envy, greed, selfishness, and anger to name a few. It’s harder to see my brokenness than it is Nathan’s. Regardless of its form, brokenness always points to our need for a Savior who was and is completely perfect and willing to pay the price for all the ways we fall short. I’m so thankful that because of Jesus on the cross, the answer will always be spiritual life for those who believe.
It’s called Good Friday, but it’s a hard Friday. It’s a heavy Friday. His death and burial so hard to understand, difficult to comprehend. It’s a dramatic story with a lot of tension, but the resolution, the story of Easter, is worth all of the pain of paying attention. Because in the end, it’s good. He is risen. He’s alive. He’s waiting for us in a far more better, more perfect place than anything we can see, taste, touch, hear or smell down here.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. -Isaiah 53:5
P.S. Remember last year on Good Friday when we got Peeped? It was a hard year and yet, we were blessed in spite of it.
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