These were the words I heard my newest daughter say as I ventured into Princess Paradise.
At dinner that night, the conversation had flitted and flowed from one topic to another …
~ Our first college visit for Sara Maria. (Can you believe that I am doing college visits? Surely I was just doing college visits myself last year!)
~ Our 18 hours in the Big Red Van to and from Dayton, TN made bearable by a highly entertaining audio of The Penderwicks on Garden Street. (If you don’t know Batty, Jane, Skye, and Rosalind, I highly recommend you get acquainted.)
~ The splishing and splashing in the Holiday Inn pool that showed that Katya truly is part fish and that she really is a Finley.
~ Who will get to wave palm branches the next day and whether or not participation in “Children’s Worship” is a prerequisite
And then …
~ What happens between the time you die and the time Jesus comes back, provided Jesus doesn’t come back before you die? …
Now, I have no idea how we got here. It truly was a very everyday ordinary conversation. And then, BLAM, before we knew it we were smack-dab in the middle of a conversation about “soul-sleep,” what Jesus meant we He told the thief He would see him THAT DAY in Paradise, and then the kicker of all kickers, what our familial relationships would be in heaven.
Theological discussions are not unusual for our family. We have them all the time and in all the normal contexts of life. They arise in the prescribed times of “Family Devotions,” proceed from personal “Quiet Times,” but most often just are part of the everyday warp and woof of life in the Finley Family.
But while we’ve discussed pneumatology, eschatology, christology, missiology, and various other –ologies … albeit without the fancy labels, apparently, in recent times we haven’t touched upon the passage that struck fear into several of our children’s hearts…
In the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage. Matthew 22:30
Without regard to the rising fear around the table, we plunged ahead. “We’ll all be married to Jesus.”
Good grief. While this is a glorious thought, it proved to be highly disturbing to little girls whose stability rests upon their reality that Mom and Dad will ALWAYS be married and ALWAYS be their parents. Repeatedly, we’ve chosen to communicate that divorce is never an option for us. Being two passionate people with strong opinions, this has been a necessary thing to verbalize…repeatedly. But that’s another post.
SINCE divorce is never an option, the more concrete thinkers have made the understandable mental leap that we will ALWAYS be married and ALWAYS be their parents.
I don’t want you to be married to Jesus. I want you to be married to each other.
Who will be my Mama? Who will be my Daddy?
You mean we’ll ALL be sisters and brothers in heaven?
And considering some of the, well, loving tussles that occur among the siblings, you can understand why this last question would strike fear in their tender hearts.
So the conversation went with Bill and I declaring the glories of heaven, how much fun it will be, and our conviction that we will be 100% perfectly happy. In the past, as we have discussed whether or not Gwyneth, Troy, Geckie, Lily, Charlotte, and various other animals, who have gone on to “Pet Glory” will be in heaven, our conclusion has been …
God knows exactly what you need for perfect eternal happiness. If you need Gwyneth, Troy, Geckie, Lily, Charlotte, the bird that Topsy killed, the mole that washed up on our sidewalk, or any other creature, lion, lamb, komodo dragon, or otherwise, to be perfectly happy, they’ll be there.
But, that wasn’t good enough to address this fear. As we sent them off to brush teeth and put on the jammies, we wondered about the Pandora’s Box that had been opened.
Soon it was time for stories, Bible, prayers, and last hug and kiss. Into Princess Paradise I ventured.
But, Mama, I want you to ALWAYS be my Mama.
declared Katya as Piper lay sobbing in her bed. And on she went …
Piper says she doesn’t want to go to heaven anymore. And I’ve told her that heaven is beautiful.
Katya pulls out her Illustrated Russian Bible that Bill and I had bought for her while we were in Ukraine. Heaven, is indeed, a beautiful place with lions and lambs, doves and deer, people clothed in white, and a city on a hill- just beautiful.
Katya and Piper, not only is heaven beautiful, but Jesus will be there. And He will make sure that you are absolutely perfectly happy forever and forever and forever.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:3-4
No more orphans. No more slavery. No more widows. No more heart disease, cancer, or anything. No hospitals. No pharmacies. No band-aids. No pain. At all.
I wants you to ALWAYS be my Mama.
My sweet Katya and Piper, I don’t know how all this will play out. I don’t have all the answers. But I know who does. And I know He loves you more than I ever could. I know that He knows exactly what you need, not only now but for eternity. I know that He is GOOD and His plans for your are to prosper you, not to harm you. He says, “I will NEVER leave you. I will NEVER forsake you.” And He ALWAYS keeps His promises. You can trust Him. You can trust Him.
As I snuggle with the girls, wiping tears from eyes, cuddling, kissing, hugging … my heart settles on Katya’s words…
I wants you to ALWAYS to be my Mama.
This from the little girl who just over three months ago had no Mama. No Papa. No brothers. No sisters. Katya, while I can’t make the promise that I always WILL be your Mama, I am for as long as I have breath in me. You have a Mama. You have a Papa, who more often than not is called “Daddy” these days. And all of this rescue and redemption that is your story, dear Katya, points ahead to a much deeper rescue, a much greater redemption – one that even death cannot sever. And dear one …
I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
And so, sweet Katya, although in my earthbound heart and emotions, I want to always be your Mama, more than that I want you to rest securely in your adoption into the eternal family. You have been adopted by us, never again to be abandoned in the hospital or left in an orphanage. But we want more than that for you. We pray that one day this will be your testimony, as it is ours …
You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. Romans 8:15b-17a