The Last Conversation I Had with My Mom
24 April 2017
My mom died suddenly in April of 2009 from an unknown infection that took over in just a couple short days. I never got to formally say good-bye because I lived too far away and it happened so quickly. All I have is the phone conversation we had the day before she was hospitalized. She had a bad migraine, but she spent 3 hours encouraging me, telling me she loved me, and that she was very proud of me. She laughed with me about the triumphs and trials of being a wife, a mom, and a woman. I told her how much I loved her and how blessed I was to have her as my mom. This was literally the last conversation I would ever have with her.
After my mom died, she did not continue to communicate with me. She did not make sure I found one of her handwritten letters tucked away in a Christmas decoration. She did not show she was near by sending the cardinal to frequent my bird feeder or by causing the pansies to grow in my flowerbeds. I am about to say something very unpopular...neither does your deceased love one. I wish they could, but I am glad they do not. Here is why.
There is a story Jesus told the Pharisees to point out to them their need to change their way of thinking. They loved money and they ridiculed him when He told them they needed to put their trust in God instead. He said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15) He then proceeds to tell a story about a rich man who enjoyed all the finest foods, clothes, and shelter. Outside this rich man’s gates was a man who was just the opposite. This man was poor, covered in sores, and ate only the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. One day, both men died. The poor man went to heaven and was seen with Father Abraham. The rich man went to Hades were he experienced flames and torment. The rich man asked Abraham for the poor man to come and put even a few drops of water on his tongue. Abraham explains that this is not possible because there is a great rift between Heaven and Hell that none can cross and because each man was experiencing their just rewards. So the rich man changes his request and begs that the poor man be sent to his five brothers to warn them so they would not suffer the same fate as he was. Again, Abraham denies his request by explaining that they have the whole Old Testament to convince them of this. If 4,000 years of God’s redemption of mankind does not convince them, then even a poor man raised from the dead would not change their minds.
So what does this have to do with why I know our loved ones do not continue to communicate with us after their death? 1 Timothy 2:4 tells us that God’s greatest desire is that all people be saved and come to know this truth. If this is what God desires, then would not God allow Abraham to grant the rich man’s request if it meant his five brothers would have a better chance to be saved and to know the truth? Instead, Abraham says that they will find comfort and salvation in what God has already told them in His scriptures. If God will not allow someone after death to communicate with others to accomplish His greatest desire that they be saved--in other words, having eternal blessed life instead of eternal torture and death-- then it seems a bit of a stretch to assume God would allow someone to communicate with the living just to encourage them and put a smile on their face.
If we stop right there, it makes God seem pretty cold and uncaring, but just the opposite is true. This is why I am glad He does not allow the dead to communicate with us. You see, my mom was a creation of God. One of His masterpieces that was beautiful both inside and out and who He created to do good things like comfort the sick and dying, encourage the brokenhearted, and feed the many with her delicious homemade meals. (Ephesians 2:10) As amazing as my mother was, she was just a reflection of the even more amazing Creator. She was a blessing to us, not in her own right, but because she was a lovely vessel created and used by God to bring us joy and point to the true joy giver--Jesus Christ. If I say that I can only find peace after my mom’s death by seeing signs and messages from her in God’s creation, then I have gone from looking to God for peace to looking to my mom for peace. My mom was called a masterpiece by God, but she was never called the Prince of Peace.
It becomes very dangerous when we look for solace in God’s creation instead of in the Creator. Job puts it this way in Job 31:26-28, “If I have looked at the sun when it shone, or the moon moving in splendor, and my heart has been secretly enticed, and my mouth has kissed my hand, this also would be an iniquity (sin) to be punished by the judges, for I would have been false to God above.” I am a nature photographer. The flowers, the trees, the mountains, the birds...I see such amazing beauty in it all. However, I must constantly be aware of who or what I am worshipping when I am photographing these things. At no point can I thank a tree for being a tree. I cannot see a bird singing and think it is telling me to keep my chin up and face the world with a song. And I cannot see a pansy and think that my mom is telling me she loves me. To do any of those things is to assume that the creation is pointing to itself as the comforter and would be me putting it in place of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Instead, I must look at those things and know that the Creator is pointing me to Him. He wants me to see how He cares for the tree and know that He cares for me even more. (Matthew 6:28-29) He wants me to see the bird singing and join it in its song of praise of our shared Creator. (Psalm 84:3, 148:7-10, 150:6) He wants me to see the flowers, thank Him for giving me things that remind me of my amazing mom, and trust that the Holy Spirit will give me peace or encouragement or whatever it is that I need at that time. (John 14:26-27)
It is true, after my mom died, she did not continue to communicate with me. I wish when I found one of her handwritten letters tucked away in a Christmas decoration that next Christmas that I was having one more conversation with her and that I could hear her lips say the salutation at the bottom of note. “I love you!” I wish that when a cardinal comes to my bird feeder or when I see a pansy in my flowerbed that I could feel my mom standing near me and hugging me. I miss her so much! What I am about to say may not be popular... but I am glad she does not. Instead, the One who created my mom stands next to me, hugs me close and says, “I love you! That is why I gave you your mom.” And that is even better!