To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.
1 How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!
Hans was happy at home. He loved this place, our little log house – our little tabernacle in the woods; the land, the creek, the surrounding fields and forests. And though he and Manfred attended other churches when they were working out of town, the Bible Church in Nenana was the only church home Hans ever knew.
But, lovely as our home is here on the earth, and precious as the fellowship is we enjoy with the saints in that little church, these are but a taste, a shadow of what we will enjoy when we get to God’s Heaven. They cannot compare with what Hans is experiencing right now. He is with Almighty God! The Lord of all the universe and beyond. The Maker of Heaven and Earth.
2 My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.
Since Hans went to be with the Lord Jesus, I need to say I have been longing for Hans more than for the living God. My heart and my flesh have been crying out for Hans; to see him, to hear him, to grab hold of him. My anticipation of entering the courts of the Lord has been so I could be with Hans again. I guess, as a mother, this is understandable and I have not beat myself up too much about it. But the time has come for me to move beyond that. I am not asking the Lord to remove my longing for Hans, but that this longing for our son would not eclipse the longing for my Savior. I am asking that He would increase my longing for the living God, the God of the living, Hans’ God, my God. The God in whose presence Hans now lives.
3 Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.
For the last ten years or so of his life, Hans slept on the top bunk of a triple bunk bed he shared with his two brothers. From this lofty perch, with its commanding view of the whole house (it’s a small house), Hans presided over all sorts of shenanigans. On the exterior side of the log wall behind the head of this barracks-worthy structure, attached to the outside of the house just a few feet from where Hans rested his head at night, is a bird house. It is a house made specifically for the swallows that return here each year in the spring. Hans grew up listening to the swallows build their nests and raise their young every year. The peeping sometimes kept him awake.
On the night Hans was killed, before we knew anything for certain and as my uneasiness grew, I began preparing to go to the hospital. All we knew was that Hans was overdue and that there was a wreck at the highway at the end of our road. Was he hurt? Or was he first on the scene and responding as a medic? I located our health care ministry card and made sure it would be easy to find in my purse. I changed my skirt, but I did not put on my winter boots because that would mean I really believed Hans was hurt enough to go to the hospital and I didn’t want to be alarmist or overreact. But I wanted to be ready to go just in case. So, there I sat, waiting for someone to walk back from the highway and tell me what was going on.
And then my eye fell on the December newsletter from Slavic Gospel Association, lying on the end table next to our Nativity scene with the figurines still set up. Josef and Mary and her baby.
The cover article headline read:
“Lord, if you want me to lay my son on the altar, I will.”
I quietly went to our bedroom, closing the door behind me. And by the bedside, I prayed and calmly lay my son on the altar. I did not like doing it. I cannot say my heart was in it. But I did it. I was not a cheerful giver, but neither did I give him up grudgingly – I felt a sense of foreboding, but there was no struggle. I believed it was what I needed to do. Because that was the only thing to do. The altar was the safest place for Hans to be.
I did not really believe God would take Hans from us. Our house, with its swallow nest and the bier upon which Hans slept, had become an altar, had always been an altar. I just never knew it before.
4 Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.
This is what Hans is doing right now – Praising God. If I want to be near Hans, this is the best way I can think of – Praise God. “Selah”, Pause and meditate on dwelling with God and praising Him for all eternity.
5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.
This is what you must understand who say to me: “You are so strong…God knows who to give his troubles to…I couldn’t do it…Your religion will help you get through this…God never gives us more than we can handle”.
This is very important for you to get: I am not strong; God has no troubles; you could do it if you had to; religion has nothing to do with it; and I most definitely have been given more than I can handle. Any strength you think you see in me is the LORD. And if I do not follow His way, especially during this sorrowful time, I will most certainly sink into a heap of despair and pain from which it would be very difficult to recover.
6 Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.
The valley of Baca – the valley of Weeping – this is where I am. A dry place one must pass through on the way to the Lord’s house. But the verse says passing through. If I look for them through my tears, showers of blessing will fill the pools, diluting my sorrow, and watering my spirit so that fruitfulness may increase and ripen.
7 They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.
Every wave of sorrow given over to Him with rejoicing, strengthens me and enables me to move forward until at last I will appear before God.
8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.
He has heard, He does hear, He will hear.
9 Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.
When I am weak with longing and sorrow, my God shields me from the enemy, from Satan, who would love to see me doubt God’s goodness and promises. This I will not do.
10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Just one day with God in glory is better than a thousand blessed days down here on the earth. A day with Him in Heaven is jam-packed with unimaginable blessing. The beauty of here is just a shadow – embryonic. The wonders of there are beyond the scope of our perception. There can be no comparison – our understanding is limited, our knowledge too incomplete.
Within our church fellowship, Hans preferred a background roll. He did not enjoy public speaking; he was not musically inclined. He was a hard worker and gave of his time in helping with maintaining the building – a doorkeeper, if you will. I fully expect to see Hans at the gate of Heaven when I arrive, eager to show me what he has been up to, to show me how much better God’s plan was in keeping him from the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
Hans was far from perfect, but he was a young man who walked uprightly, by God’s grace. In cutting his earthly life short, God has not withheld anything good from our Hans. For the Christian, to die is gain, and Hans has definitely gotten the better end of the deal. Hans is basking in the light of God’s presence, utterly shielded from all evil, rich with the benefits and blessings of God’s grace, engulfed in His glory.
12 O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.