It is hard to believe that five years have gone by since Anna left us and went to be with the Lord. In her memory I am posting three videos for you. They have all been here before, but many of you may be seeing them for the first time.
The first video is of Anna at three, when she learned her first tongue twister. At the time we were in Richmond, VA preparing to leave for Indonesia. Anna was three. It was a very cold January and Anna decided, for whatever reason, to go into hyperdrive in her aversion to certain irritating pieces of clothing. This included socks and shoes. That would not have been a problem had we already arrived in Indonesia, but we were still in a very freezing Virginia. In between the screaming and tears, however, we caught her here in a particularly pleasant mood.
The second video is from Salatiga, where we did out language study. Anna was a much calmer four years old. In this video she is reading a book to me at bedtime. Two things are funny watching the video now. First, while Anna missed the word “her” at one point, she had no problem with the phrase “beautiful arabesque.” Second, at the 1:18 point, you will hear Anna’s older brother, Sam, going into a very excited and high-pitched scream of “Scat, Cat!” I’m guessing that Sam had taken charge of the kitchen and was trying to keep our new cat outside.
The last video is from her memorial service. It is a montage of pictures set to two songs: Michael W. Smith’s “Anna” and Switchfoot’s “This is Home.” We used to listen to the cassette containing “Anna” in our car in Indonesia. Anna used to ask me to turn up the volume on “her” song. Another song that we would listen to together, and that would cause her to lean up to me, was Phil Keaggy’s “Child (in Everyone’s Heart)”. Switchfoot became our favorite band while we were in Indonesia. We had most of their albums and for a long time, our car had a Switchfoot only music policy. Many of their songs would have been appropriate to remember Anna because it seems that Jon Foreman, the songwriter, has experienced significant loss of his own. “Amy’s Song” and “Yesterdays” deal specifically with losing a friend. Anna never heard the song “This is Home.” It was released in the days immediately after her death. But as soon as I heard it the first time, I knew that this was the right song to remember Anna with. Since then, Switchfoot has released two more albums and each one of them has its own “Anna” song. “Needle and Haystack Life” reminds me that Anna was unique, like finding a needle in a haystack, and that we need to hold on to such things while we can. And then “Souvenirs” on their most recent album speaks for itself.
I’m not sure about the truth of the saying, “Time heals all wounds.” Yes, in some ways. But some wounds leave behind scars that never go away, even with the best plastic surgery. Some wounds heal for a while, but the new skin is such that the wound keeps getting reopened from time to time. But while we may wish things were different, we must continue with what we have. Memories are sweet. They are painful as well. But these things only serve to remind us of the fellowship in the sufferings we share with Christ. Sin entered the world through Adam, and with it came death. But death was not the final statement to be made. With the curse of sin, God also pronounced his victory over death. So in time, God sent his son in form of man to die the death we deserved. God showed his great love for us in that he did this while we were still sinners. The righteous died for the unrighteous. His resurrection from the dead proved God’s final victory over death, and was a foreshadowing of the resurrection that we will all one day experience. But resurrection does not come without a prior death. So God’s victory over death on our behalf, does not eliminate the battle. It merely guarantees victory in that battle.
Anna knew these things. She loved Jesus more than life itself. She spoke often of her desire to be with her Lord. In the midst of the sad memories, it is a great comfort to know that Anna has, in part, what she wants. The part that is still incomplete we await along with her. We can still stand alongside Anna and cry out to the Lord, “How long, O Lord!” We await his return and final resurrection from the dead, when the dead in Christ will arise first and then we will be caught up together with her and the Lord. What a day that will be!