It was 11:45 a.m. when he was pronounced dead. But truthfully, he had been dead for several minutes. CPR was performed, the ambulance had been called but it was over. So there, on the hardwood floor at the back of his house, my daddy died. No one was with him when he passed and my heart was heavy with thoughts of him calling out for someone with no one to answer or help.
A few days later, after the funeral, I was in his room rocking my 2 year old to sleep. I stared at the armoire in his room where his ashes were now stored and pondered how life could change so quickly. I tried to absorb the fact that only a week and a half ago I had hugged my dad goodbye for the last time and now his remains were tucked away neatly in a black plastic box inside his armoire. Not exactly where I saw him spending his nights a week and a half ago. As I rocked and stared and thought about all of these things, I truly understood how people without faith can be plagued by the thought of “What does it all mean?” If all our lives boil down to in the end are a box full of ashes or being buried in the cold earth, then there are a lot of questions I would need answered too, not the least of which would be “What is the purpose of life? Why are we even here in the first place?”
Maybe it’s because I am a girl but for me, the answer is a love story. Everyone wants to find true love. Not all of us yearn for it in the same way, but all of us need to be loved truly and unconditionally by at least one person on this planet. And part of the “formula” for being truly loved is being loved by someone of their own free will. Love isn’t really love if there are ulterior motives for someone’s affections. We don’t want to be “loved” because we have money, because we are good looking, because we are the best way to get back at the one you really care about, or for any reason other reason than who we are. To be loved when we are at our best but especially when we are at our worst is the longing of every human heart. We don’t want an “arranged marriage,” we want to choose our partner. We want to be wanted, to be pursued, to know the other person cares enough to come after us but knows when to leave us alone too. For most, courtship will end in marriage and the only way to be happy in a marriage is for both parties to want to be there. Marital bliss isn’t possible with unwilling parties, ask anyone who has been in either of those shoes.
I believe God is the same way; he wants us, he pursues us, his heart aches for us to reach out to him. But he knows that if we don’t want to be there then the marriage will be a fraud. It won’t be true love. He gives us the choice of choosing him. But oh, if we do choose him, what bliss we will experience in heaven, the marriage of Christ and his church! I believe our purpose here is to find our true love, Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can love our souls the way we so desperately need to be loved. He is the only one who can look past our bad parts and see only the beautiful parts. He is the only one who can make sense of this crazy world and why we are here in the first place. We are here for the courtship of Christ. And when we allow him to court us, when we allow him into our lives and begin a relationship with him we realize what we have been missing all along. We learn that this life is only the beginning of an eternal and perfect relationship in an eternal and perfect world.
As we drove back home across several states, I was listening to my husband play songs on the radio. I started crying when “I Was There” by Josh Turner came on. And the way many men do at the sight of a woman in tears, he quickly started apologizing and changed the song. I said “Isn’t it funny how God speaks to us sometimes? I have been torturing myself thinking of my daddy dying alone, reaching out and no one being there to help. And as I listen to this song, I realize how silly that is. Of course someone was there.” It was God. He was there, as always, steadfast and loyal until the bitter end. And I know that, just like in all the best love stories, the hero came and rescued his loved one and they rode off into the sunset and will live happily ever after as they wait for us to join them.