I've never quite figured out how I feel about "signs." While the Bible is full of statements regarding Jesus performing many signs, I often think about the time the Pharisees tested Him, demanding a sign and He told them they couldn't read it anyway (Matthew 16:1-4 and Mark 8:10-12) and they'd been given all the signs they were going to get, no more would be coming. I often think Christ performed the last of the "signs" and we have to wait for the return of Christ for such amazing wonders but then... Then things happen that I can't explain, that don't fall under any category but flat out miracle and I think... God isn't done sharing His wonders and signs, where is my head?
When our dear friend Keith passed away at the beginning of April, we were all left in absolute shock. Don't get me wrong, Keith had been ill, diagnosed in December with metastatic melanoma, given 8-12 months but we all knew he was going to beat that timeframe. Had to. All of the stories we'd heard were of people who were given that 8-12 months and then went on to live another 2 or 5 or more years after that "end date." But Keith's melanoma moved into his lungs and then he contracted pneumonia. It was the pneumonia that took him, he didn't have the strength or lung capacity to fight it.
So...we're all left wondering how could it be possible. What was God thinking? We had time. We were going to say our good-byes. We had plans.
Yeah... we all know the saying about making plans...
But. Keith's military honors funeral. It was a brilliantly-beautiful afternoon and if you're at all familiar with our weather this year, we haven't had many of those. Actually, since October, we didn't have an all day sunny day, no rain whatsoever day until May. Even on that day it rained but for Keith's funeral, the sun shone brightly and the temperature climbed.
He was carried in by the National Guard and a motorcycle group called The Patriots stood at attention, lining the walkway with American Flags and honoring Keith's service. It was, beyond a word, beautiful.
The amazing thing, though... the sign if you will... was the dove. Doves, white doves mind you, do not often fly alone. This one, according to the funeral director, was not a "regular" at the cemetery but there it was. It arrived when Keith did, with the motorcycle procession and it flew overhead while they sat at the cemetery entrance and then flew with them when they drove him to where he was handled by the National Guard (please forgive me if there is better terminology for this...my mind still isn't working clearly). When that soldier took his urn, the dove continued to fly over Keith. Once he was placed on the table and the service started, the dove flew behind us and sat in a tree.
And there it stayed.
Until Keith was escorted back out and placed in the car to go home. Until that urn was put away, the dove sat guard. White dove. A single white dove.
Staring at that dove, all I could think of was Christ being baptized and God having a dove alight on Him. It was all I could do to hold back the tears as I stared at that bird. I brushed it off...for a bit. Saying too much was being made of a bird but as I thought about it and thought about it, all I could see was God's mercy and grace overflowing from that simple, single dove. Keith was ok. He is home with God and all is well. That dove was God's sign to us that that is so.
And it gives us great peace as we try to adjust to life without our friend. Thank you, Father God. Thank you.