I want to be close, close to Your side
So Heaven is real and death is a lie*
Death feels too real right now. A sweet mama we know parted with her little boy just moments before midnight on New Year’s Eve. A Caring Bridge family announced the passing of a most remarkable woman. My best friend will soon be saying goodbye to the grandmother who raised her. Another friend of mine has received devastating news concerning the tumor in her young son’s brain. And I dream about death, dreams that I can’t even bring myself to describe in written word. I receive the results back on my blood work; they are good, and I wonder, how many loved ones will I have to say goodbye to before it’s my turn. How much grief can one bear? Death feels too real right now. . . . But death is a lie. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:22, 26, emphasis mine).
The disciples must have felt angst over parting with a loved one as well, for Jesus said to them, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? . . . that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-3). So, for the children fighting a disease bigger than their bodies, for those who have served the Lord faithfully for years and for those who have recently received Him, for these, death is a lie. They will go on living in eternity, an eternity without sorrow and pain (see Revelation 21:4). On New Year’s Day, when I posted about the little boy’s passing on social media, my friend commented that he had had the best party ever. He celebrated with Jesus! While there is so much grief here on earth and too many goodbyes, Heaven is full of rejoicing! I have been thinking about Stephen in his last moments here and the vision he saw of Jesus. “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). Jesus wasn’t sitting idling by when one of His own was dying physically. No, He was standing, preparing to welcome Stephen home. Heaven is the greatest homecoming celebration! In Heaven, there will be more living than a thousand lifetimes on Earth!
I want to be near, near to Your heart
Loving the world and hating the dark
There are some that live as though death is not a lie, but is instead a very real, truth. So, they write bucket lists, climb corporate ladders, build large retirement funds, take extravagant vacations and run marathons. There is nothing wrong with any of these things, of course. The problem is when we believe that this life is all there is. Certainly, we know that physical death happens to everyone, but death, the permanent cessation of ourselves, is a lie for them, too. Because if you don’t go on living, then you will go on dying. Hell. It’s not a topic that comes up a whole lot in my writing. Nobody likes to talk about Hell, but, as I told someone the other day, “if Heaven is real, then Hell must be, too.” So, I wonder, those who live comfortably behind their white-picket fences, are they ready for eternity? Those lying sick in hospital beds all over the world, have they been “good” enough to go to Heaven? The Bible says that no one is good (Psalm 14:3, Romans 3:10) and the human heart is helplessly deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). We all set standards of what is right, wrong, morally “good,” but we all fall far short of God’s glorious standard of perfection (Romans 3:23).
“If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Hope is so much bigger than the here and now. It is not wishful thinking, but it is an expectation of a promised future. Romans 8:5 says, “hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” That is the same love, same Spirit that is offered to all man. Everyone can have that same hope. There is more to this life, than what we can see, touch and feel. It is something so much greater than our human selves. Last night, I was reminded of this wonderful truth from Romans: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” The Lord sacrificed everything to give us life and hope eternal, and He longs to be gracious to us (Isaiah 30:18), to give us a life that is greater than death. If only we would receive it. Because one day, if the Lord tarries, we will all face saying goodbye. I want to be ready for my homecoming when that day comes. What a day that will be!**
“And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
January 21, 2015
(If you are interested in knowing more about how to “keep on living” after dying, I encourage you to talk to a trusted pastor or Christian mentor. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
*Phillips, Craig & Dean “Great I Am”
**Jim Hill “What a Day that Will Be”