We live in a decaying world, and nothing makes that more real than death. It seems that as I get older more and more people I know are stepping into eternity. In fact, in the past month I have had at least one person each week, either from my church or close friends, make that journey to the next life.
This reality was very real to me almost four years ago when my wife after almost 38 years of marriage made that trip. We were planning a future of travel and companionship into our golden years – then along came cancer and changed all that. What was a future filled with plans became a future filled with uncertainty and the reality of a coming parting that no medical science could prevent.
I have been asked several times these past few years how I handled the death of my wife, and to be honest the Lord has been extremely gracious to me, giving me a perspective that allowed me to go through the valley of the shadow of death and come out the other side. It is this perspective, the eternal one, that enables us as believers to face the death of fellow Christians with a measure of comfort, knowing that they are going to their eternal home and that one day we will see them again where there will be no more night, no pain, no disease, no death, no tears, and no decay.
I live in that expectancy – I will see Donna again. And when I do, she will not need a wheelchair, hearing aids, cochlear implants, a walker, or glasses. She will be completely whole – and I will be whole as well!
So here is the thought I leave with you – what is your perspective? Maybe you are facing death yourself, maybe someone close to you has passed away in the recent past, or maybe things are fine today. So, wherever you find yourself, remember there is one reality we all must face, some day we will all take that step into eternity.
Are you ready?
The following was a post I did to Facebook on 17 June 2018, just a little over three weeks before Donna passed away. In it I talk about our eternal perspective.
Donna had another relatively good day today. She continues to slowly weaken, and she sleeps a lot, but overall, she is doing much better than expected at this time. Our morning started out with a thirty-minute visit at our home church to see our church family for a bit - we couldn't stay long but it was good to see all the familiar faces. We followed that up with a trip to MacDonalds where Donna was able to eat about 1/3 of a big breakfast.
Later in the evening we had our small group over, and Donna was able to eat 2/3 of a piece of cheesecake and later a bowl of ice cream - all told, about 950 calories today. She is down a bit in weight, but that is to be expected. Even though she sleeps a lot, she found the energy to bake a few honey cookies and right now she is insisting on doing the dishes after her bath. She also got to take Stetson for a longer than normal walk, all the way completely up and down our street.
During the last few weeks, I have been coming to grips with the reality of our situation. God has been gracious in granting me a level of perspective - most likely due to the prayers of everyone on our behalf. One of the meditations I have had is from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 which is one of the great Rapture chapters in the New Testament, the time the Lord comes back and takes us home to heaven. In that passage Paul says that he is telling the Thessalonian church about this event so "you may not grieve as others do who have no hope." As I pondered that statement it hit me that Paul is not telling the Thessalonian believers not to grieve, rather they are not to grieve as those who have no hope! Remember that in the New Testament hope is not a maybe or iffy kind of thing, rather (and this is my definition) it is a "present certainty of a future reality." Our hope of heaven is not an iffy thing for those of us who have come the way of the cross, believing in the finished work of Christ and accepting his offer of forgiveness by faith. Rather, it is a present certainty of a future reality!
So, when the Lord calls Donna home, I am going to grieve - and I hope others do as well. But our grief is not the despondent and distraught kind of grief of those outside of Christ, rather it is a grief that is temporary knowing that someday we will be reunited with our loved ones in a place where there will never again be death, sorrow, crying, or pain.
Many years ago, several decades in fact, Donna and I came the way of the cross. We acknowledged our sin and asked Christ to save us, something we could not do ourselves, and He did. We have confidence in a future resurrection and a reunion - and that is something that gives us peace in the midst of our storm!