This “confession” comes from the mind of an English Major who can’t help but notice verb tenses and from the heart of one who has not lost a loved one, but has said, “See you later…Gator.” (haha)
Drew is not was; he is. If we, as Christians, believe that when your earthly body dies, you are alive and in His presence, why do we refer to those who have gone before us in the past tense, like they cease to exist? “Drew loved you so much.” “Drew was such a talented, young man.” Can Drew not love anymore? Does he no longer possess the talents God gave Him? Do we assume that the God who created and gifted us so uniquely in order to better glorify His name; the God who loves us immensely beyond measure; the God who made a way for our salvation through His Son—Do we think that this God decided that once we are finally in His presence, we will be dead emotionally, intellectually, physically and/or spiritually? We talk and sing about heavenly reunions. What is the point of a reunion if we don’t remember each other or our lives together? A reunion of drones with no emotional connection sounds like a blast. My God is more inventive than that!
I’m passionate about the verb tense thing, but I don’t want it to come across as condescending. I, myself, didn’t give the past tense references a second thought until about 10 months ago. Now that Drew is in heaven; I have a tremendous appreciation for the fact that I don’t have to use was, were, and been to describe Drew’s characteristics or actions. Instead, I’m free to use is, am, are, and being.
I know some people will think that I’m grasping at straws. Poor girl, she won’t say the d- word (dead, died, death). She can’t make herself say it. Well, let her think whatever she must in order to stay sane. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 11:26
Some may think that I need to face reality. Doesn’t she know Drew is dead and gone? I saw him in the casket and I saw the casket lowered 6 feet into the ground. He’s not coming back so we need to stop talking about him like he’s in the next room. Oh, but be prepared; he is coming back! And the dead in Christ will rise first… 1 Thes. 4:16-18
The first thing nagging at my mind and chewing at my heart after our accident was that Drew, though “in a better place,” had no recollection of me or any of his life on earth. Heaven became this dark mystery that I was too scared to research. Some of you reading this know exactly what I mean and are thinking, I’d rather go to heaven than hell, of course, but neither one seems too appealing. I better enjoy life as it is right now. I see how ridiculous that thought is now! The Father of Lies has us convinced that Heaven, where the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost dwell, the home of all the Bible greats, is a place undesirable! And we question, How could God’s home be better than earth and all its pleasures? I would love to share with you what I’ve learned about our eternal home and the One who is establishing it for us. For now (in an attempt to stay somewhat on topic), it will suffice to say that, Yes, Satan wants you to be afraid! He wants you to think that heaven is the “unknown”—the boring place where God’s creation partakes in relentless chanting and singing of hymns that are 1,000’s of years old. I hope you dare to challenge these notions that the Deceiver calls truth. Because our God is so much more exhilarating than worship on autopilot!
Back to the main topic: Ruby will never hear me refer to Drew’s love for her in the past tense. Daddy loved you. No, Daddy loves you! The Drew God made and loves is still in existence! For I am sure that neither death nor life…will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
My purpose is not to persuade you to start talking differently about your loved ones who are in heaven. Although I hope this makes you consider it. I wrote this so that you will understand why I (and Drew’s families) still talk about him in the present tense. It’s because he still exists!
If I had no choice but to refer to Drew in the past tense; if I only had happy memories and Ruby to cling to, then, yes, I too would ponder such questions like, How does she go on with life and continue to smile? But if you truly know my God and His promises, you understand. My prayer is that you seek Him, and you do get to know Him. No, this life is not sunshine and daisies, but Eternity promises to be so MUCH more!
And so, Jesus, come quickly!