My life feels like a perpetual layover. I left the land where Tristan was once happy and I know I’m headed for the land where Tristan is finally happy, but until then I’m stuck at O’Hare. This isn’t my town, these aren’t my people, I’m just on a layover waiting to get home.

It’s how i feel on most days but it’s not the Truth. In my best moments I tell myself what I’ve found in God’s Word. Can I tell you? Lets go…

Jesus spent his last few years on earth desperate to pour His life into 12 guys because He knew the end was near and time was short.  They were the ones who would carry His work on after He left for heaven. So why did one of them get killed right out of the gate? Wasn’t that the loss of a precious resource?

It gets worse. This “senseless” death happens during the telling of how God miraculously saves the disciple right next to the one who died. 

Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to harm them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. And when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (Acts 12:1-3a)

Peter is subsequently thrown in prison guarded by 4 squads of soldiers. Everyone starts praying fervently. After all, James was just killed. That seems to be Peter’s fate as well. So much so that when Peter is saved by an angel, those praying for him don’t believe the answer to their own prayers. They  think it’s Peter’s spirit standing at the gate waiting to be let in.

Here is the question: Peter was freed from death. Was he better than James? Peter was spared the sword, but James was run right through with it. Was Peter more important to God than James was?

We know that’s not the case because God tells us that each persons’ death is precious in His sight. He also tells us that He is the one that decides our length of days. Could He have sent an angel to block the sword aimed at James? Yes. Did He? No. Both of these guys were part of Jesus’ inner circle along with John. When it came to private lessons with Jesus, it was always, James, John, and Peter. But before James had much chance to use Christ’s mentoring, his life was over. Peter, on the other hand, went on to build the church and make history.

God creates each person for His glory in His kingdom. We don’t get to decide how that glory is given to God. Will it be through living until we’re 95 or 5? Will it be through a life lived for Him to a comfortable old age, or dying in desperation before we’ve even had a chance to form a family of our own?

He’s God. And He gets to say. He plans our length of days and how He’s going to use us for His kingdom. It’s HIS kingdom and not ours.

James was not second best because God placed a sword in his life while orchestrating a grand escape for Peter. If you follow Peter’s life to the end you will find a crucifixion in God’s plan. Yes, God’s PLAN. A horrible, painful, gruesome death. Why? Let’s listen to Jesus tell Peter why…

but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21: 18b-19)

I look upon Tristan as having died a horrible death. Horrible does not exclude it from glorifying God. I also hear God saying to me in the aftermath, “Follow me.” Don’t worry about Tristan and what manner I called him home by. You, follow me.

The point is this, we are all under the Potter’s hands, on His wheel, designed to be useful the way He sees fit, not the way we see fit. Isn’t that what we signed up for when we decided to follow Him as His slaves? Slaves that are called brothers, fellow heirs with Christ? I can’t look at the picture of my four children and say, loved by God, loved by God, loved by God, oh, there’s Tristan, loved by God not-so-much. That would be ludicrous! By faith we believe that His compassion and love are unsurpassed not matter what happens to those we love.

One day we will inherit it all. Our children are enjoying that inheritance right now. It is not too much for Him to ask us to live without our children. They got to see Him first. In that sense they are more blessed than we are. But our time is coming. And when it does He says that we will believe the years we spent without our children are but a momentary light affliction in comparison. 

Can we make it until then? Can we survive what feels like being perpetually stuck in O’Hare while we cling to the Truth of God’s Word?

Dear God, help us all. Its so hard to believe when we can’t see. Give us the faith we need to make it through this horror. Thank you for showing how your saints made it through their own horror. You are the same God. You will help us, too. In Jesus’ name, amen.