Rural highways are often dark. Night journeys in the country are illuminated only by the reach of the headlights. The exceptions are the primary intersections. There are often streetlights at the intersections. Special awareness is needed and provided at such points.
This past summer, our family journeyed with my wife’s dad as he concluded his days on earth. We walked with him, bearing him to and “through the valley of the shadow of death.” After long months of seeing only what was immediately ahead, we came into the additional light to be found at the corner of “what is” and “what is to be” where this life meets the life to come.
Some of that light shined from caring persons in our community. Their performance was stellar, their compassion brilliant. Our family is grateful for the caring professionals and care-givers staff who were light on the valley way.
But the greater light dawned as death neared. Some of it is the stuff of the spiritual and mysterious. He was a man of great faith, specifically faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, the light of the world, to provide life now and forever for all who believe and receive. Dad’s deathbed was a happy-sad farewell, part comedy routine, part church service, part family reunion.
One of the bright lights at the crossroads of forever was the giving and receiving of blessing. Death did not come as a thief. We had time to say goodbye and we did so with gusto. Whatever the failures of family living across the better part of a century, they were put to rest with confession, forgiveness, and affection in word and touch. Grieving got all mixed up with blessing. Tears of joy and of sorrow mingled on our cheeks.
Perhaps the zenith there on Zenith Avenue was when Grandpa called a very pregnant granddaughter to him. He said, “I want to bless your baby.” She approached. The light at the intersection intensified as he gently touched her belly, speaking/praying for the health and good of the child he would never meet in this life. As death’s darkness encroached, generational blessing lighted the room and the way forward. It was bright and beautiful.
In the Bible book of Hebrews, Chapter 11, the faithful of the ages are listed. In a contemporary version, Hebrews 11:20 reads this way: “By an act of faith, Isaac reached into the future as he blessed [emphasis mine] Jacob and Esau.” When we help and care and love, and especially when we bless, (that is, declare a future filled with “shalom”) we stand at bright intersections, reaching into uncertain futures, changing them for good.
Papa lighted our futures with blessing as he departed. If blessing is good for the intersection, it is probably better for the dark road. Don’t wait too long to shine blessing on all who cross your path today.