Welcome back for “Part B” of my October 31st article.
Halloween feels like a paradox - both disturbing & strangely odd, all at the same time. There is such a morbid preoccupation with death and evil, yet our culture is terrified of dying!
In a manner of speaking, death knocked on my door at age 6. I was terrified! A door-to-door salesman came to our front step, and gave a presentation to my parents about advance-purchasing funeral plots. I had been hanging off my parent’s shirttails during his sales pitch. Immediately after he left, I lost my composure, weeping hysterically, clutching my parents.
“I don’t want you to die!” My inconsolable little heart could not process this possibility. I remember so clearly, my very authentic expression around the fear of death.
I speak tenderly to that “6-year old heart” in each one of us. In the most honest of moments, we feel anxious about our mortality. Our hearts weep for fear of the unknown.
Thirty-eight years later, I found myself facing death head-on. One Friday evening, I kissed our 17-year old sons, Jordan and Evan, goodbye, and sent them out the door to youth group. Twelve hours later, we were summoned to the hospital and discovered that they had died. Five days later, their coffins were lowered into the ground. Full stop. This was no Halloween movie, this was our reality.
The headstone inscription “Rest in Peace”, applies so much more to those of us who are left behind. How we toss and turn at night, wrestling with the harsh reality of our loved ones absence, and awareness of our own mortality. We desperately seek peace, comfort and reassurance about what happens after we die.
We live in a culture that does whatever possible to deny death or sanitize it. Woody Allen had a case-in-point, “it’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
I have become convinced that the scriptures are true: “He has put eternity in our hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). God has made us eternal beings. Though death is unyielding, the grave is not the grand finale! There is something more beyond this finite world we live in. Since laying our boys to rest, I realize that death sets off a homing-signal for eternity.
Josh McDowell summarizes my convictions so well: “Christ’s resurrection is the great hope that Christianity offers to a hopeless world – forgiveness of sin and an afterlife with God, free of pain and suffering and filled with boundless joy.”
My friend, it all hinges on the historical fact that Jesus rose from the grave. He triumphed over the final enemy, death. His demonstration of power ultimately stamps the word “truth” over every word that Jesus said! And, interestingly, Jesus actually has a great deal to say about the afterlife in the Bible! I could write a book about it!
This is Jesus’ promise: “Truly, truly, I say to you that whoever hears my word and believes in Him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgement but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)
God provides eternal security to those who trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of their sins. I am able to lift my gaze up confidently toward the promise of heaven.
How do I live life fully now, in preparation for eternity? As I face the challenges and hardships of life, I prompt myself frequently to check my lenses! Is my vision clear?
I must remind myself, “how does God see me?” Loved... accepted... chosen... He has a purpose for my life - right up until my last breath. He offers the gift of forgiveness, putting me in right standing with holy God. I need not fear judgement! These truths buoy me up and carry me through.
I have an expectant focus on eternity ahead. In heaven, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Interested to hear Jason, my husband, share his story? As a keynote speaker in 2016, he shares about tragedy, death, heaven, and our eternal hope.