I am not afraid to die. I’m not a fan of the process that gets us there, but actually dying… not afraid. When I think of the actual event of death, for the one in Jesus, I believe it is just an act of closing my eyes to this world and opening my eyes to the heavenly world. The heavenly world is one of experiences and infinite delights that my mortal brain can only imagine in a small finite way. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5 that for a follower of Jesus being absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I can tell you, with my limited experiences here on earth, Jesus is beautiful! And when all the limitations of my life here are gone, I am sure Jesus in His fullness is more beautiful than I can imagine. I guess that is why it is good to contemplate on occasion that life here on Earth is just that “Life on Earth”. Nine years ago our family experienced two significant losses within a matter of a couple of weeks. My father in love died on July 9th, 2011. My nephew Matt was lost at sea on July 26th 2011. My oldest son was 16, my daughters were 13 and 11, and my baby son was 7. I can remember the night after I told my baby son his cousin was gone. He had set up a small tent in our house and filled it with pillows. I could hear him crying in the tent as he went to sleep. There were no words to console his tiny heart. My youngest daughter asked me a question that has caused our conversation to stick with me through the years. “Momma, why do all these bad things keep happening to us?” My reply was simply, “I don’t know. Sometimes life sucks here on earth. But that is what makes Earth, Earth and Heaven, Heaven. Heaven is the place of no more sickness, no more crying, no more pain. (Revelations 21) Earth is not. There are plenty of good things that happen here that we find joy in. Like our family having fun together. But occasionally life is hard. We must always remember that when we see Jesus we will understand.” The parenting books may judge my answer harshly, time will tell. There is a lot of truth to chew on in that answer, that I really didn’t realize as I said it. Life on Earth is like an armpit compared to life in Heaven. Jesus told us He was preparing a place for us so we could be with Him. We should never lose sight of that.
One of the things about heaven that sticks out to me is how “time will be no more”. Revelation 10:6. For the loved one in Jesus, who dies before us, Eternity is an instant reality. They are no longer wrapped up in the constant ticking of the clock. Heaven is a land where a thousand years is like a day. (2 Peter 3:8-9). For my loved ones, who are watching in Heaven cheering me on,(Hebrews 12:1) my remaining time here is but a blink for them. I am 49 and if I lived to be 101 like my dearly loved Grandpa did, these 52 years that I will live to get there are only a blink to him. My Grandpas, my grandmas, my nephew, my father in love, my oldest brother I never knew, and my baby I lost in miscarriage, along with all my other relatives and close friends, who have already arrived will not have to wait long until I arrive. It is for me, here on earth, that the time seems like forever… I am the one who is left to miss them as my life goes on. I can find comfort in knowing as my life goes on, 52 years really are only a little while, and I should find joy in my time that remains. It will only be a blink.
Yesterday, during my time in the Bible, I read a passage from Joshua 23. Verse 14 stuck out to me. “Soon I will die, going the way of everything on earth. Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord, your God has come true. Not a single one has failed!” Joshua, a loved leader, was preparing to die. He was giving his final words to the people of Israel. His time on earth was spent fighting many battles to acquire the land God had promised him and his people. He saw life, death, and all the stuff in between. His conclusion was that what God promised came true! Nothing God said failed! I look at Joshua’s life of battles and hardship and see he acquired the land promised, but died shortly after. No long retirement kicking back enjoying his land. But Joshua wasn’t bent out of shape by this at all. He knew this wasn’t the end for him and God was faithful.
Yesterday I sat by the bed of my mother in love as she has continued her fight with much pain and suffering. We talked about the words of Paul. “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21. Death for a lover of Jesus is not a failure. Sure our life here on Earth is to be lived fully for Christ, all in, 100% for Him, and His blessings upon us make life here worth living. BUT to Die is Gain! To be fully present with the lover of our souls, nothing between us any more, is gain for us! It isn’t to be feared, but anticipated by us.