For everything there is a season...

My daddy is 88 today. I took him baby roses and a mini "Happy Birthday" balloon to set on his window ledge, for him to enjoy long after this day is past. We ate McDonald's French fries and big fat shortbread cookies shaped like birthday cakes. We laughed a lot and drank coffee and iced tea and sang "Happy Birthday to You" and enjoyed his company until it was time for me to leave. Dad loves to play with his age dividing it by half and half again. One minute he's 44, then 22, then he gets silly and says he's 120. In a serious moment, he wanted to be 44 but not 95. He does not expect to live until he's 95, though he admits he does not know what the Lord has for him. I doubt he expected to see 88, but here it is. Our times are in His hands. Cooper was 8 when he died today. Eighty years younger than my daddy. A little boy with so much life ahead, so much promise--a son, a grandson, perhaps a brother, a cousin, a friend. Too soon to go. Much too soon. My daddy would have traded places with Cooper. He is ready to see Jesus. Cooper still had his whole life to live.

I mentioned in my last post that I've been listening to Amy Grant's newest CD Somewhere Down the Road. On the title track of that CD are the words, "So much pain and no good reason why...nothing here can make you understand...Why, why, why? does it go this way?...Somewhere down the road, there'll be answers to the will find mighty arms reaching for you...they will hold the answers at the end of the road."

All we can do now is keep walking, keep living despite the unanswered questions, despite the pain life brings sometimes. Sometimes it hits too hard, too often, with too much...and I wish I understood, wish I could explain why.

Solomon once said, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace....He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;" Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11-12 ESV

It's easy to find joy in celebrations, not so in times of devastating loss. Someday the losses will cease and the time of birth, planting, healing, building up, laughing, dancing, gathering, embracing, seeking, keeping, sewing, speaking, loving, and peace keeping will forever replace death and all the sadness that goes with it.

God has put eternity in our hearts, and somewhere down the road, His mighty arms will hold us close. Daddy may live to be 95 and be glad of it. Or Jesus' arms may hold him before then.

Whatever lies ahead, between Daddy and Cooper I'm reminded of this: Life is fragile. Hold close those you love, and love them dearly.