-bright gems for his crown-

When my children were babies, I had a mental list of songs I would sing through as I stood by the crib rocking them to sleep, ready to tuck them into bed for the night. One of them is a song from my childhood that goes like this:

When He cometh, when He cometh
To make up his jewels,
All his jewels, precious jewels; His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning, His bright crown adorning,
They will shine in their beauty, bright gems for His crown.

Today I sang that song in a different setting: on the side of a lush green hill with the threat of rain in the air as a tiny 24-day-old girl was tucked gently into the Kentucky soil. It’s an experience that no one should have to face.

He will gather, He will gather
The gems for His kingdom;
All the pure ones, all the bright ones; His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning, His bright crown adorning,
They will shine in their beauty; bright gems for His crown.

I was standing somewhere in the middle of the crowd, and it was during this second verse that the song started to fall apart. Voices on either side of me were dropping off – losing the power to vocalize words that were so heartbreakingly appropriate.

The men who lowered the casket into the ground should have been passing their beautiful, squirmy niece around, commenting on how much she looks like (or different from) their own children – not covering her over with cold, hard dirt. Life is not fair.

My friend wrote recently, “Although death is never easy, I’m thankful for the promise it brings.” I agreed with her the day I read it. I thought it was profound and beautiful and it made a lot of sense. Today it doesn’t make as much sense to me. It’s hard to see the promise of eternity when a lifetime of hopes and dreams is ended after just 24 days.

The crowd gathered around the grave site was made up of people who love my cousin and her husband; people who are praying for them and grieving with them. We won’t forget them or their loss, but we will go on with our lives, step back into the normal routine. I think of them going home with empty arms, packing away baby clothes, living day after day…. without. Life will never be the same again. I know too many people who understand exactly what they’re facing.

Little children, little children who love their Redeemer
Are the jewels, precious jewels; His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning, His bright crown adorning,
They will shine in their beauty; bright gems for His crown.

I came across something in C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man that has stuck in my head for a long time: “Notice how we are perpetually surprised at time. (How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up and married! I can hardly believe it!) In heavens name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us which is not temporal.”

I wonder if the same thing is true of death. We were not intended to be creatures that die, and so death always surprises us; always comes as a nasty shock. We never quite get over it.

And there are no words that can really bring comfort.


About ruthie.voth

Wife of one, mother of four, friend of many. Lover of details, color, good conversations, finding balance, and being honest. Passionate lover of a well-crafted sentence - even more so if it's witty. Weird blend of cynical optimist. I'm the worst kind of woman. I'm high maintenance, but I think I'm low maintenance. Somehow, people still love me. Must be grace.
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5 Responses to -bright gems for his crown-

  1. mplum3 says:

    I think the promise is easier to believe when death comes after a full life. No words can bring comfort. How unfortunately true. (I am amazed by your poetic wording. Simply brilliant)


  2. Thank you Ruthie, I imagine you there. And the rest of the family. I remember burying Jalisa’s, Aunt Evie there and my brother, David too. I remember the music – the great waves of acapella singing and the strong sense of community. I am glad you could be there and sorry that I could not. I am so sad for all of us – but especially for David’s family.


  3. Jeannie Smith says:

    This song has been a huge part of my growing up years. Thanks for your very moving account of having been present with our extended family during this difficult time. I am sorry to not have been there.


  4. dchartzler says:

    Thanks Ruthie! Good thoughts!


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