I Missed You…

Written: 10/16/2010

I’m home from work now, on this peaceful Saturday afternoon. It’s a good day, a day to savor all the blessings in life, and a day to cherish because 25 years ago today, Philip Andrew Shore was born. We didn’t know we were having our third son on that day, no ultra-sounds had revealed we would be having a boy—they just weren’t done as much then as they are now. I was 28 years old, healthy, and there was no reason to think that our child’s birth would be anything but healthy, and it was until he reached age 10 ½ and Leukemia entered our world. Five and a half years later, Heaven became Phil’s new Home.

It seems living without Phil, and the process of grief over the past nine years, has taken me through three ways of dealing with “the birthday.” In the beginning, I’d look back, thinking of all the things we had enjoyed together. Then as years went by, I started to focus more on the day, thinking of how I wish we could still have this day together. Now, I tend to more look forward, Heavenward, and to the happy reunion that awaits us. Looking forward brings Hope!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything
is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

“We are a product of our thought life.”
Chip Ingram

How “interesting” that when I got home from work today I should turn on the TV to a movie in progress, a movie about a missing boy. The parents thought he had been murdered and that they would never see him again, but in the end he was returned to them. The final scene shows his mom arriving home just as numerous police cars are pulling up in front of her house, and out of one of the cars steps her son of about eight. She can scarcely believe it’s really him, but it doesn’t take long until she runs to embrace him, telling him over and over, “I missed you…I missed you…” It tugged on my heart as I thought of meeting Phil in Heaven one day, of how I will once again see his sweet face when I arrive Home, perhaps running to him and clinging to him as this mother did to her son, and telling him how much I have missed him!

Yesterday at work, a young man sat in my chair. He is a fireman. He was excited as he told me that he’d be attending a concert on Saturday…for his birthday. I asked him how old he was going to be. He said, “25.” I told him how it was special to be cutting his hair, since my son would be his exact age. To me, this client was a gift, to have this encounter with him. I don’t know what this means in the grand scope of things, but I do know that it blesses my heart to watch the ways of God. Any number of other stylists could have picked his ticket up off the front counter and been cutting his hair, but not on this day. He was in my chair, sharing his life with me, sharing the excitement of his birthday with me, and I enjoyed the time we had together. I have to believe that God orchestrates these events to bless us, not to harm us…to warm our hearts with His great love and care for what’s going on in our lives.

I left for work this morning looking for God’s touch on the day, and I saw it in so many ways. As I drove to work listening to a Christian radio station, one of my favorite worship songs came on. Its words rang out, “…remember your people, remember your children, remember Your Promise Oh God.” I always think of Phil when I hear this song, and I thought, “How great Lord, that you would have that playing this morning, remembering me, remembering Your children.” God’s special touch is always there, but do we accept it as such, or do we push it away as coincidence, or just a small thing that means nothing? I hope we learn to see God more and more in all the small and large things in life. The Holy Spirit is alive and active in each of our lives as believers if we will take notice and embrace all that He is doing in and through us each day. These things can be sloughed off, but what a loss if we do that with the very things that can lift a heart, or encourage us to focus on the things of Heaven, and not just on this Earth.

In talking about some of these Heavenly things with a woman I work with the other day, she said that her grandpa had died twice, and after the first time, he had told his family not to bring him back again if he should slip away…he said Heaven was so beautiful! She then said this about Heaven, “We just can’t be sure.” I told her, “Yes, we can!”

Being sure is not knowing all, it is not seeing all, it is believing all. It is holding onto God’s promises because they are God’s promises, and He would not lie to us. If God lies to us, then we have no God at all to believe in, and we can just be done with having any faith in Him. If God is not God, then we’re finished when our days on earth have ended. But it’s not over when we leave here, not by a long shot! I was reminded of that as I stood at Phil’s gravesite this last week. I don’t go often, so it had probably been a couple of years since I’d been there. My thoughts on being there had changed also. Once, I used to stand and remind myself vehemently, “He’s not here!!” I needed to remind myself of that or it was too much to bear. But this last week as I stood there, I looked around at all the grave markers and the thought kept coming to me, “No one is here! It’s just me, and all these headstones. All these lives are now in Heaven, or in Hell. These are just the tents they lived in for awhile.” It was a feeling like walking into a house, into our homes, and being the only one there. On this day it didn’t seem I was reminding myself to comfort myself, but more that God was reminding me, to comfort me…

Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you
when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.
1 Peter 1:13b (NLT)

We can see God as a very active Savior in our every day, and we can depend on Him to deliver what He has promised without a doubt. God is not just a “little bit” God, with a “few” of His promises being true. He’s all or nothing! If it is nothing, then it’s exactly that! Nothing! Not just a little bit, not close, not something that might work, it’s none of that…it’s nothing! We can’t cling to nothing. What’s the point?! But because God is all, then we are gold!! We are saved by Jesus Christ, by His death on the Cross, and His resurrection, and eternal life is ours through our Savior.

Without faith it is impossible to
please God, because anyone who comes to
him must believe that He exists and that He
rewards those who earnestly seek Him as well.
So Have faith in the Lord your God and you will
be upheld; have faith in His prophets and you
will be successful.
Hebrews 11:6 2 Chronicles 20:20

When I get to Heaven, and I see Phil again, I won’t be clinging to nothing. I will be clinging to my son who I have missed. He will be physical, I will touch him, I will talk to him, I will spend eternity with him, and with God. I will see God face to face, I will talk with Him. This is the Truth we find in God’s Word, and I focus on it as much as I can, reading about it, praying about it, listening to songs about it, talking to others about it, writing about it…I have to, because I live in a physical body just like everyone else on this earth, dealing with a physical mind just like everyone else, and battling thoughts that all humans do about the validity of God. I can choose to doubt, or I can choose not to doubt. Choosing to doubt leaves us anxious and worried and upset. Making the choice to believe seems the better one, it calms us, brings us joy and hope, and makes all of this earthly stuff diminish compared to what’s to come. Why would we choose to doubt? Because it’s a temptation, and sometimes temptation gets the better of us. God knows that, and strengthens us through it. Satan knows it, and pulls us towards doubt every chance he can get. Satan is as real as God, just not as powerful.

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he
who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;
he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
Philippians 1:6-8 (NIV)

I was in a bookstore the other day, wanting to pick up a book by Francis Chan called, “The Forgotten God.” I did get that book, and I have started to read it, but I was also drawn to a book called, “The boy who came back from heaven.” I purchased it also, and gobbled it up like it was chocolate! Within a day, I had finished reading this young boy’s account of Heaven, it was amazing! Some are cautious when reading books like this, as we should be, always holding it up to God’s Word to make sure that everything that is shared matches up with Scripture. For a mom who has a son in Heaven, these stories help to fill the holes of doubt that Satan’s arrows can inflict. I do believe still to this day God gives some the special gift of seeing what is to come, and they are to share it as Paul did, to encourage us when our faith is waning.

Paul’s testimony of Heaven:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up
to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body
I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether
in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—
was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that
man is not permitted to tell. 2 Corinthians 4:2-4

Paul may not have been permitted to tell all, but he did share with us that he visited Heaven, just as Alex did in this book, not telling all, but enough to wet our appetite for what’s to come. Our son, Phil, was given a special gift of seeing a slice of Heaven before he left here too. If it happened to our son, and he was able to tell me about it, why should I not believe it happened to this young boy or the author of “90 Minutes in Heaven”? Why should we focus on all that Satan puts out there in books and movies, and TV shows, and discount all that God gives us through inspiring stories of our Eternal Home through believers in Jesus Christ? The stories that I have read have expanded upon what Phil told me when he saw Heaven only a couple of days before he left for all of eternity. Some are given even a greater vision to share, like this young boy Alex in the book.

Our focus each day is so important! FOCUS can be thought of as: Focusing On Christ’s Undeserved Salvation. This world is so distracting, there are so many things vying for our attention, and so many times we’ll fall for it. I enjoyed when I read about Alex’s “ongoing connection with Heaven.” His father wrote:

A few years ago, when I was wrestling with a particular issue, I did what has become natural to me: I prayed about it. Then, just before leaving to go to work, I asked Alex, “When you are praying today, would you remember to pray for me?”

Alex looked at me with a penetrating gaze and said, “Daddy, I’m always in prayer because part of my brain, through the Holy Spirit, is in constant communication with Heaven. My mouth is for talking to people.”

My mind immediately went to the verse in the Bible that says to pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I had always thought it meant we should pray a lot, but somehow Alex’s words caused me to better understand the continuous nature of communion the verse is calling us to. (“The boy who came back from heaven.” By Kevin and Alex Malarkey)

Is this the way we are living our lives? It can’t be without a constant focus on the eternal, which means we have to take each thought captive to Christ, and let the rest of the day go about itself. Yes, we work in this world and move through it, but our thoughts need not be fixed on this world…if they are, we will miss out on the moving of the Holy Spirit in our every day…and He is not to be missed! The Holy Spirit is the greatest gift we have been given since Christ walked the face of this Earth!!

Francis Chan writes: Have you ever thought about the significance of having “another” Counselor who is “just like” Christ? Right now, imagine what it would be like to have Christ standing beside you in the flesh, functioning as your personal Counselor. Imagine the peace that would come from knowing you would always receive perfect truth and flawless direction from Him. That sounds amazing, and none of us could deny the benefit of having Jesus here physically, guiding and enabling us every step of the way. Yet why do we assume that this would be any better than the literal presence of the Holy Spirit?

We can see this reality, the Holy Spirit’s guiding and “flawless direction” if we are focused on what He’s doing. I have experienced it even though I don’t really understand how it all works, but I know that it’s amazingly possible!

The wisdom of the wise keeps life on track;
   the foolishness of fools lands them in the ditch.
Proverbs 14:8(Message)

Recently, I was given the privilege of visiting a friend in the hospital. Really, she was a friend of a friend, and my friend was not able to go and see her, so I asked my friend if she thought I should go? She greatly encouraged me to do just that, so I did. Not that day, and not even the next day, but when Sunday rolled around, it seemed it was time to go when I got out of church, so I did. First, I went to the wrong hospital, then found the right one, then I noticed that no one was on duty at the information station, so I had to find someone else who worked there to see which room she was in. After all was said and done, I walked into her hospital room just as a doctor was leaving. The reaction I was met with surprised me, being that it was instantaneous tears. She knew that God had brought me to her room, right at that moment, to encourage her, God’s timing was perfect. I didn’t know that, but God’s Spirit inside of me, the same Spirit who lived inside of her did, and His “flawless direction” was working. The news she had just gotten was devastating, and as I introduced myself, just making sure that there was no discomfort for her in that we didn’t know each other well and she might not even know my name, she began to tell her husband and daughter that I knew her situation (cancer) well, and that I was living without my son on this earth. (She may not have known me well, but she did know my story.) We spent the next half hour together, talking about the promises of God, sharing stories, reading Scripture and praying. One week and one day later, she went on to Heaven, after promising during our visit that when she did meet God face-to-face, she would give Phil a hug for me. What a sweet gift from an amazing woman of God.

These moments in life are faith-building. They continue to show me that God is in charge of all things, that He can move in and through our lives in powerful ways because His Holy Spirit is alive and well inside of all who do believe. Yes, Jesus walked the earth and it would be awesome to have Him here with us, telling us what to do, where to go, and how to do it…but we do have the Spirit of God doing that in us every single day. We have to be like young Alex, and be in “constant communication with Heaven.” Grief does that for us, the missing works in us to keep us focused; hardships point us towards eternal Hope. In Matt 5:4, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Today is our son’s 25th earthly birthday. I went to work, Jim went to work, and even though our steps looked “worldly,” our thoughts were on Heaven. Even though there is great missing…we also know that there is great Hope in what we believe, and there is no need to doubt a God who promised that a place is being prepared for us, and one day, Jesus will return and take us all there to be with Him.

John’s testimony of Heaven:

“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder.”
Revelation 4:1-5

The radio this morning also sang out the words, “Call out to Jesus!” There’s never been better advice given!! Thank You Lord for a day filled with the hope of great reunions to come as we call out to Jesus!

Oh, how I’ve missed you Phil!!

Until we meet again,