Each day our Pastor will post a message to keep us connected while the Church is closed.
Day 74, May 26, 2020
“The mask is temporary”
We have been asked to wear masks when we are in public settings. While many have complied with this request, others struggle to accept the necessity of wearing a mask. One thing I keep in mind is that the masks are only temporary. Whether the wearing of masks lasts a few more weeks or months, perhaps even longer, my belief is that at some point we will no longer wear the masks. Just knowing the mask is temporary has helped me to strap mine on when my first inclination is to choose my personal comfort over the obvious inconvenience.
Knowing the mask is temporary has helped me because I have seen a mask that is not temporary. I have seen a mask that was permanent. The last year or so of my dad’s life, he wore a mask. He wore a mask that was permanent. Before the progressive disease he suffered from took his life, the disease took away his ability to smile. The disease caused what the doctors called, “Masking.” During his last days his face had no expression and no emotion. And then he died.
As our hearts were filled with the great sadness of losing someone we loved so dearly, something truly wonderful happened. My dad’s younger brothers traveled from Ohio to California for his memorial service. Their faces bore an uncanny resemblance to my dad when he was younger, when he could express emotion. At that moment I realized the mask that dad wore those final days of his life was not permanent after all. His mask was only temporary. I saw his younger brothers on the Friday night of Labor Day Weekend. The Memorial Service was the next day, a Saturday. At my dad’s memorial service, I stood up and shared these thoughts about his mask.
“As my dad got more and more sick, I would have dreams that were very difficult. In my dreams, my dad would be smiling. I would awake from these dreams with a sad ache in my heart. One of the first effects his illness had on him was called masking. His face lost the ability to express feelings, and so he could no longer smile. That might have been the most difficult thing to lose.
Take away the ability to walk. Take away the ability to talk. Take away the ability to eat, even the ability to go to the bathroom. That was all bad enough. But don’t take away his smile. Not that beaming smile that would light up at a good joke (or even a bad one), the smile that would ignite when he saw one of his grandchildren, the self-effacing smile that would recognize when he had goofed up or been had by one of our countless pranks. Give us the smile.
But the disease took the smile. And that hurt.
And then yesterday I saw my dad smile again. My dad’s death has brought together a wonderful group of family and friends, ones who have dropped their plans and come here at great cost and inconvenience. That means the world to us. Each one of you being here is a gift. But I don’t think I can describe what it meant when my dad walked into our backyard last night…twice. Two times last night my dad walked into our backyard. His brothers, his younger brothers, Uncle Roger and Uncle Herb flew in from Ohio. It was like seeing dad in his prime. Their faces were full of expression. They were telling jokes like dad. They both went through the food line like dad. And they both smiled. I was drinking a glass of wine, but with apologies to the Swinging Medallions, ‘It wasn’t wine I had too much of it was a double shot of my father’s love.’
I guess that pretty much expresses how I feel about my dad’s death. We miss him. But boy is it good to know the mask has been taken off. Our hope in the resurrection life of Jesus Christ, the promise that he will make all things new makes me believe the mask is gone. Like the book of Revelation tells us, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…I am making everything new.” The mask is gone. The smile is back. Thanks be to God.”
Someday we will all take our mask off. By someday, I mean this Coronavirus Crisis will eventually come to an end. But the someday I am really thinking of is not a day that will happen here on this earth. The someday I am thinking of is a day when the mask we wear will be removed permanently. On that day we will see God face to face. It is inconvenient to wear a mask. It can also be uncomfortable. But it is only temporary. The mask is only temporary. Someday…someday…some great and glorious day, we will see our Savior face to face, and all that is temporary will fade away. Having that kind of hope in that kind of a God helps me deal with a lot of the temporary challenges we face in this life.
With the love of Christ,
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