By Joe Mckeever on May 22, 2015
Earlier this year, author and pastor Joe McKeever lost his beloved wife of more than 50 years, Margaret. In this moving article, he reflects on what it means to "adjust" to the new reality--and how faith requires an adjustment, as well.
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I had to rewrite my résumé today for our blog and for a program where I’ll be speaking soon.& That’s when I realized the material should state somewhere that I was recently widowed.
How exactly does one do this? And what’s the best way? And is it absolutely necessary? And why does it hurt so badly to type in those words?
One of the decisions I find myself making daily is whether or not to tell the person I’m talking with that everything has changed in my life. Does the lady at the dry cleaners need to know? Margaret never came in, so they didn’t know one another.
I told a complete stranger at Walmart today. I was browsing the refrigerated section that displays frozen dinners. I was curious about what was available, whether I bought anything or not. A woman employee approached. “Can I help you find something, sir?”
I said, “I guess not … I’m not sure what I’m looking for … I’m new at this …” And then, “I buried her a month ago,” and the tears began to flow.
I was pleased she did not overreact. She simply said, “I’m so sorry. Now, the thing about all these frozen dinners, sir, is that they have too much salt. So you really have to be careful.”
That was helpful. Why, I wondered later, did I blurt out what I did?
It’s my new reality, and I’m still “trying it on.” Is this the new me? Does this work? Can I be a widower, and does that make me handicapped? Or am I still a whole person?
I’ve never had to ask this before or even give it one thought.
I asked my buddy Jack for his favorite Scripture. Jack knows his brain cancer is fast-acting, and in spite of the chemo and other extreme measures he is receiving, at most he is expected to live no more than another year. Jack has requested that a neighboring pastor and I hold his funeral. As brothers in Christ for nearly a half-century, Jack and I treasure each other, and I consider this a high honor.
He did not hesitate. “Second Corinthians 5:17. ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away; all things have become new.'”
I said, “And why is this text so important to you?”
He said, “Because it’s the truth.” And nothing more.
When we receive Jesus Christ into our lives, everything changes, to be sure. The Lord writes our names down in the Book of Life. He erases the debt of sin against us. He enters our lives and makes us children of God. He adopts us into His family. He indwells, overshadows, precedes, undergirds and accompanies us from that moment on. He gives us a new identity, a new name, a new family and a future out of this world.
When a new reality takes over your life, it begins to define you. You are no longer who you were. Anyone wishing to know you will need this information.
That’s why I tell some people about Margaret’s homegoing. And why it’s not necessary to tell others.
It’s why Jack and I want everyone to know that Jesus Christ has saved us and He is now ruling our lives. It’s our new reality. We are new creations in Him. (Our “new” reality? I was 11 and Jack perhaps 25 when the Lord saved us. But, yes. Life with the Lord Jesus Christ is ever new. Every day is something special, a new creation from His hand. He makes all things new.)
Adjusting to a new reality takes time and considerable effort. I still weep a lot. And I know enough about the process of grieving to affirm that when the tears begin to lessen, it will not mean I love her any less or am attempting to forget her. It simply means I’m trying to be faithful for the days remaining.
Paul said, “If you then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God…” (Colossians 3:1-3)
At the grocery, I will not be buying the same list as before. Margaret will not be needing the soy yogurt or the lactose-free milk. The reality for me has changed all that.
When my friend Jack and I interact with friends old and new, it will not be as the “old men” we once were. We are “new creations” in Jesus Christ. Our minds are “set on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Adjusting to the new reality is now my plan for the day. For every day.
And, it occurs to me, up in Heaven, my bride of nearly 53 years is doing her own adjusting to the new celestial reality. And how wonderful that must be. After all, “this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immortality” (I Corinthians 15:53).
This earthly body was not meant for Heaven. It has to be laid aside so the new body can be seen and do its thing. This new body is as much more glorious than the old as the butterfly is to the caterpillar. (Wouldn’t you love to know what goes on in the mind of the butterfly as suddenly he/she/it slaps those gloriously beautiful wings and goes soaring off into the sky? Talk about adjusting to a new reality! “I’m not a worm anymore!” Smiley-face now and forever!)
Even so, come Lord Jesus. I can’t wait.
But I must, even for a short time. Oh, Holy Spirit, help me to be faithful during these few more days.