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Jesus told us, “If I’m leaving to make room for you, then I will surely come back for you” (John 14:3). Who doesn’t want to be with Jesus? My problem is the blockheads around me who tell him, “Don’t bother.”
Okay, this is one of my spiritual peeves—Christians who understand nothing about the words “blessed hope.” It happens during conversations and in church when people, grateful to be alive, remark, “We could’ve been dead, sleeping in our graves” or something like it. Truthfully, we’ve all probably had several close calls, some we knew about and some we didn’t. So, for everybody, Thank you, Lord, for sustaining our lives!
He Shall Never Die
What bugs me, however, is the notion that death is so bad, which urges me to question if life is really that good. When people pipe up with ‘happy to be alive’ comments (and I love life), I sense that somehow this world is all the reality there might be in their minds. I don’t wish to be unfair, but I never encounter those who, like me, cannot wait to be with Jesus in the joys of the life to come.
Before you think me unnecessarily critical, the apostle Paul had to deal with the same kind of people. The Thessalonians must have recently lost some beloved person because it prompted Paul to correct their undue mourning. “We want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13, NLT). He referred to those without Christ who have either no hope or false hopes about their eternal security.
Our bodies will expire; I think we get concerned about sickness, suffering, and pain. I don’t enjoy thoughts about what I might have to endure before I pass on. But though we believers experience physical death, like all humanity, we never die. Our lives before Christ and present clash with sin is the only spiritual death we will ever know. Jesus’s own death usurped sin’s authority, so death, the fullest extent of sin, becomes a grace that makes an end of our dealing with sin—forever.
The Joy of What Awaits
Our future is alive. We immediately go to God, who welcomes us into Heaven—and what that must be like! I’ve heard theology about it, and I’ve heard people who say they’ve visited. It’s all exciting. Is Heaven anything like Earth with vast regions and social systems? And the physics must be mind-boggling! Just think of Christ after his resurrection. Then, there is the New Earth to come.
We will breathe our last here, but we will not die. And Christ’s return will ‘seal the deal’, and these very bodies of ours will be refashioned and made perfect. (The sinner doesn’t get that.) So I don’t dread death or live life ducking. Now I enjoy my humanity and the world around me until it’s time to leave. In fact, that’s my prayer to God: Grant me to live out all of my appointed days. I ask not to die prematurely.
The blind monk in the wonderful documentary Into Great Silence says, “The closer one brings oneself to God the happier one is…the faster one hurries to meet him. One should have no fear of death…it is a great joy to find a Father once again.”
I cannot wait to see God, and I often tell him this. You’re also wrong if you think I have a death wish. So until the angels finish my mansion there…on a splendid mountain overlooking God’s throne…I’ll keep at his will here and send my treasure ahead.