I sit in the living room of my aunt’s Houston home, bright early morning rays streaming through clearstory windows, streaking my clothes with warm strips of light. I listen to my mom on the phone in the next room, speaking with the funeral director in a business-like tone heavy words that I don’t often hear: cremation, urn, obituary, imminent. Death.
The elusive concept and occurrence we English-speakers term death can wear such an assortment of faces – tragic, sweet, soft, unexpected, traumatizing, relieving, gradual, horrific, welcome, sudden, peaceful. How strange it seems that we classify all of these variations under one and the same name. Death.
For several hours yesterday I sat in the assisted living residence of my seventy-year-old Uncle Alex, who has been visually impaired for his entire life and fully blind for the last thirty years. He decided to terminate his thrice weekly kidney dialysis this past week, and now awaits the end of his earth experience. Though Alex was always a talker, his words are now few, disjointed, and strained. One thing he still is able to communicate, however, is his fear.
He senses that a vast unknown territory lies ahead, and while he has developed a tender relationship with a loving God over the past few years, anxiety still seems to gnaw at the back of his hunched neck. His frail body feels tense, apparently reluctant to rest, not fully assured that all will be well.
I look upon my Uncle Alex, and I see myself. Trying my best to keep up a managerial role, suspicious whether I can truly give God all my worries about what I think are my responsibilities that I should be able to handle without his help. I resist admitting full dependency on God because maybe, if I were to dare to let go entirely, God won’t be there. What if I’m left alone and abandoned, like a fool, like a heap on the floor, helpless.
A part of me contends that it’s much safer to stay self-reliant with some sense of control then to let myself fall into God’s custody only to find that He’s only a hopelessly hollow hologram. Thankfully, however, a deeper part of me has experienced his presence, faithfulness, reliability, goodness, and capability time and again. I believe, but Lord help my unbelief.
As my physical eyes observe my precious Uncle, I see so clearly the folly of both of our very real doubts. Let go, Uncle Alex. He’s here. He’ll carry your burden, if you’ll just let him. He’ll be your gentle Father, if you’ll just allow yourself to be his little boy. He’s got open arms to hold you, if you’ll just receive that embrace and let your apprehension melt in the warmth of his Love. He’ll lead you hand-in-hand into the next phase of your eternal journey…he’ll even carry you if you ask.
Let go, dear Alex, let go.
Let go, dear me, let go.
Do you resist letting go?