Absent from the Body… 12/21/2021

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by Parker J. Cole

Writing this post is difficult for many reasons. I am dealing with the loss of my grandmother who passed away last month on November 5th. Although that amount of time has gone, the holiday season, and her birthday on December 20th makes the pang of her absence sharper. 

A friend once asked me, “Why are you so close to your grandmother?” I simply stated, “There is no memory where she is not there.” My whole life, Granny was there.  

I look at pictures I have of Granny, and I think, “How can you not be here? You’ve always been there.” Too often in these few weeks, I’ve thought, “I gotta call Granny and… oh.” 

Now, she’s gone.  

Well, not really. She’s absent from the body. 

In the past, I’ve heard of others who lose loved ones who go to psychics or mediums, desperate to find a way to communicate with their loved ones from beyond. In the early days after Granny passed, I had someone come to me, offering the use of their phone so I can ‘speak’ to Granny via a ‘spirit’ app they downloaded. 

Uh… no thank you. 

See, I can honestly say that was one thing that didn’t cross my mind. I know where Granny is. I know she’s doing well. I know she’s with King Jesus. I don’t have doubts about her place in eternity.  

Only in death do we really think about life so below are my thoughts. 

What we really are: 

We are eternal spiritual beings adorned with flesh. From that first moment of conception, we came into being. When we are released from our earthly bodies through death, we are still alive, just not visible to those of us still here on Earth.  

Now, I know everyone has different experiences when it comes to death and dying. Some have said they’ve seen their loved ones, felt their presence, or had interesting and extraordinary things happen to give proof of their loved ones who lingered on after death.  

I won’t speak to their experiences, but I will say that it proves the point of our reality being ‘layered’. The spiritual and natural intersecting with each other at various points. We wouldn’t have these experiences if the spiritual did not exist. 

We are not stardust. We do not return to the cold, dark universe in some mystical cohesion to a monolithic, conscious creation. We are separate, eternal beings who each have our lives.  

We are not the sum of biochemical processes and electrical pulses, merely animated non-monsters of Frankenstein’s genius. We are not organized matter being shaped by environmental stimuli, formed, twisted, and shaped by externalities.  

We are not projections, we are not elevated animals with a greater mental capacity, we are not computer programs, we are not extensions of some cosmic, godless mind.  

We are people, men and women, created by God, meant for worship, connection, and relationship. We are spiritual beings made for warfare against the enemies of God—Satan and all those fallen beings in the ‘unseen realm’ (as Heisler puts it) who seek to destroy God’s purpose for creation. 

But will ultimately fail.

Why does that matter? 

Eternity, and our place in it, is of great importance. These lives we are given, this time we are blessed with, what are we doing with it? Is more than just human achievement? 

I’ve been watching all the progress being made in the space race. Seeing how scientists are discovering new and wonderful depths of space. Theories being reshaped and reformed as new things are brought to the forefront of our knowledge.  

Yet, all that vastness of knowledge waiting to be grasped and understood, all comes down to this: what is our purpose? Why the heck are we here? 

For we all recognize that one day, we will be absent from the body.  

At Granny’s funeral, a constant refrain from family and friends who spoke was that she spent her time telling people about Jesus. I can remember her going out as a child passing out tracts and the like. It was important to her that people knew.  

One thing I’ve heard from non-believers is if believers really believed their whole stance about heaven and hell, then why aren’t they breaking down doors to tell them. 

Well, why aren’t we? 

My pastor said is being a good neighbor simply staying out of my way and letting you live your life, regardless if our lives offend the Lord? We, myself included, have allowed sin to go on unabated that we don’t even recognize that sin is a great offense to the Lord who demands, no commands that we be holy because he is holy. 

We are very quick to say, God will forgive me. God loves me. And that is so true. Yet, we don’t want to accept that God wants us to live life in obedience to Him.  

Sin separates us from God. We can only get to him by the blood of Christ. Sin is a bad word nowadays, I get it. We don’t want to say, I’m a sinner. We’ll be quick to say, I’m not perfect. I try to be a ‘good’ person. I try to love everyone. I try to let people be whoever and whatever they want to be, what have you. 

And yet, God says in his word, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ 

The wages of sin is death—this is why we die! 

After death, we will give an account of our lives to God. 

Sin is real and it is offensive to God. We worry about offending people here on earth. Why aren’t we concerned about offending God? 

Why are we so loved? 

In the movie Prometheus, (which I hated by the way), a prequel to the Alien movie the Progenitors of humanity wanted to destroy it. They were disgusted by what they had created and were like, “Oops! Well, that went wrong.” 

This notion of alien gods, or alien creators, wanting to get rid of humanity is a prevalent theme in sci-fi. For all our protestations and acceptance of our imperfection, we cannot escape the awful things we do. We see it every day—horrible atrocities committed by and to each other. 

The underlying self-hatred of our sinful nature comes out. On a podcast I aired about the state of sci-fi, my guest made mention of this and it only rings true.  

Even we understand just how bad sin is even as we excuse it!  

Yet, God didn’t take our solution and just destroy his creation. He could have and we wouldn’t even know. Why? 

Because of love. 

Love for his creation. Love for us. Love for me. Love for Granny. 

How incredible. However, God’s love is not blind to our faults. He doesn’t say, I love you. Do whatever you want with unlimited freedom.  

Unlimited freedom leads to chaos. Godly boundaries give freedom more than unfettered access to every pleasure or desire. Not just a list of dos and don’ts but limits.  

He loved us so much that he had no wish to be separated from us. He died for us, and then, overcame death by conquering it and giving us a way to be with him forever once we are absent from the body.  

True love is a choice, a conscious decision. It is not coercion or obedience. God showed that through his sacrifice. 

We show that when we decide to give up our sinfulness for his holiness. 

Conclusion  

Perhaps this notion falls of deaf ears. After all, here in the West, we heard for a long while now. 

Yet, it’s because of this, as I come to end of my thoughts, I do not have any despair. I miss Granny. I miss her hugs, her laughter, her sass, her sharp tongue, and knowing eyes.  

I miss her presence. 

But to be absent from the body, for those who believe, is to be present with the Lord. 

About the Author:

Parker J. ColeParker J. Cole is a writer and radio show host who spends most of her time reading, knitting, writing, cooking, and concocting new ideas for stories. Her first novel, Dark Cherub, won Best of Spring Reading 2013 from eMediaCampaigns. She lives in Michigan with her husband and beloved dog Sarah.

Visit her site at http://www.ParkerJCole.com

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