At the threshold of the new day stands the Lord who made it
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I had a lousy week last week. Admittedly, I lacked objectivity in my grief over our dog’s death. Not that grieving isn’t necessary…it definitely is! But I’ve been wallowing in it. It seemed the first few days that — just as when Rascal used to find some stinky thing in the yard to roll in — I was languishing in the sadness of losing her; inexplicably drawn to the dung of hopelessness.
I guess there are a lot of things I could feel hopeless about, if I let myself.
Last night, my daughter and I watched Valkyrie — a 2008 movie depicting the final plot to overthrow Hitler 9 weeks before his suicide and the ultimate Allied victory in 1945. What a lot of people don’t know is that Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German pastor, theologian and activist) was on the periphery of this attempted coup — introduced to the cause of General Beck by his brother-in-law, Hans von Dohnanyi.
Exposed to the struggle of black Americans through study of Civil War Negro Spirituals while attending New York’s Union Theological Seminary in 1930, Diethrich brought back a profound sense of human rights with him when he returned to Berlin (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfsO-JhqZak). Ultimately, when he recognized the oppression of the Jews by Hitler’s regime, Bonhoeffer’s decision to “stand in responsibility” against the brutality of the Third Reich seemed reflexive. This decision led to his imprisonment in Buchenwald, Schonberg and finally Flossenburg. All the while, this brave saint ministered to despairing prisoners and wrote chapters of his work, Ethics (which were smuggled out by sympathetic guards). Despite the gallows that loomed on the horizon did he wallow, I wonder? Not according to witness reports and his own manuscripts. This man had the big picture clearly in focus. The legacy of his underground writings are a testimony of life as a disciple of Jesus — sustaining soul and fellow believers every step of the way.
So, how did I get here from Rascal dying? (For heaven’s sake, this started over a family pet). Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s purpose in grief. Why do I struggle so much when illness strikes, persecution happens, hopes are dashed, people (or pets) die? Why did God design me to feel so deeply this way? My conclusion today is: I need to yearn for reunion. As a part of that, every day is a threshold to cross over as I determine to step toward the One who made it, and toward my ultimate, eternal reunion with Him and those I love.
I’m stepping over today. In the blink of an eye, we’ll all be there…and you’re gonna love my dog!
Want an adventure? (Another great Bonhoeffer quote. Last words before his hanging: “This is the end – for me the beginning of life.”) What grieves you? Injustice? Loss? Illness? Need? Ask God to show you His purpose in it? On a heavenly level, what does it make you yearn for? Step eagerly over the threshold of this new day purposing to redeem it until…