For Such A Time As This
The day my daddy died changed my life forever. Christopher Ryan Anderson – 1963-2010. I remember people using words like cancer, chemo, hospice, but none of them really meant anything to me. And then he was gone.
Okasan (that’s Japanese for mother) and I cry less and less as the days pass, but sometimes I get so lonely for my daddy. I want to believe the stories he told me about the Bible, and how heaven is a real place for people who believe in Jesus, but how can I be sure? Before daddy died he gave me his Bible and said if I would read it God would speak truth to my heart. I think maybe I should give it a try.
Okasan was raised to practice Buddhism by Hideyo Kim, my maternal grandmother. She is affectionately known as Soba to me and my cousins. Her husband Eiji (whose name means “Eternity”) was killed on August 6, 1945, when the atomic bomb was dropped by the Enola Gay on Hiroshima in Japan. As Soba grew older it became more difficult to live alone, so she moved to the United States to live with us. We all adjusted pretty well, but she didn’t like to hear daddy talk about Jesus and salvation.
“If I continue to honor Eiji long after his death, the spirits will look favorably upon me in the afterlife.”
Daddy never rebuked Soba, but he always looked saddened by her response. Once daddy shared a story about two men – a rich one and some guy named Laziruss. He said Laziruss didn’t believe in Jesus either, until after he died and landed in hell. Then he wanted to come back to earth to warn his family, but the distance was too great.
I’m really glad I put the pink post-it note in my Bible at Luke 16 so I can remember where to find the story. And now I know how to spell the name correctly L-A-Z-A-R-U-S. My daddy said he wasn’t afraid to die because he was going to see Jesus. Does Jesus greet you with a big bear hug? And is it really true that there are no tears in heaven? I think Okasan and I could use a trip there right about now.
“No! No, it can’t be true!”
Soba’s scream scared me more than a rollercoaster ride. I ran to her and saw buildings shaking on the television. I learned about earthquakes at school – where the ground breaks apart and everything shakes like daddy used to when he got seizures. Walls of water were washing away entire villages and cars floated like Matchbox toys. People were running to get away, but were caught in the waves and killed. The news reporter said, “If only there had been more warning, different choices, thousands of lives could have been saved.”
Warnings. Choices. Saved lives.
My teacher told us that the United States showered Japan with over 5 million pamphlets about the impending atomic bomb drop, but the people ignored the warnings and didn’t evacuate the cities. One hundred thousand people died.
The reporter said those who heeded warnings about the earthquake and tsunami (a fancy name for the big wall of water; and a word on my spelling test this week) made it to higher ground and were saved. Those who didn’t heed the warnings (or perhaps never heard them) tried on their own to survive, but were killed.
Lazarus chose to believe in God while he was alive, even though he was poor and had sores the dogs liked to lick. The rich man lived like a king on earth, wearing fancy purple clothes and stuffing his face. But, both men died. Lazarus was comforted, but the rich man was tormented day and night.
I’m not sure where my Papa Eiji went when he died, but if he believed like Soba, I’m afraid it wasn’t heaven. I know daddy is with Jesus because he asked Jesus to forgive him and come into his heart. But where will Soba and Okasan spend forever? And all those people in Japan. What about ME?
“Dear Jesus, this is Esther. I want to spend eternity with you and my daddy. Please forgive me and come and live in my heart too. Amen.”
Esther grabbed her Bible and rushed to Soba and Okasan. She began to read Luke 16 aloud. God could change their hearts too, before it was too late!
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