Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘death’

Life or Death?

I like happy endings.  “Romeo and Juliet” is such a well-known and loved story, but it’s a tragedy, a story of death.  He thinks she is dead so he drinks poison.  Then she sees he is dead and kills herself.  Death is what our world seems to do best.  War, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, genocide, suicide, gang killings, and the list goes on.  The devil drives people to death.

But Jesus came to give us LIFE! 

He himself IS life—“I am the Way the Truth and the LIFE!” 

He grants us access to the water of LIFE–  “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  [It] will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14) And when given a vision of heaven, the Apostle John saw “the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God…”  (Revelation 22:1)

His purpose in coming to earth was this:  “The thief comes only to steal and kill a and destroy; I have come so that they may have LIFE, and may have it abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

He took our death sentence in order to give us LIFE!  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal LIFE.”  (John 3:16)

He urges you to accept his invitation to LIFE:  “… I have set before you LIFE and death, blessings and curses. Now choose LIFE, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your LIFE…”  (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Which will you choose:  death from the devil or LIFE from the Lord—along with light, love, and so much more?  This will be the happy ending to your story!

Bring Me To Life by Bebo Norman
(Listen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wR6rABJP_48)

I am a barren land
And it’s all I can do to stand
I am thirsty, I am thirsty

Father, reach out Your hand
I have given all that I can
Still I’m sinking, I’m still sinking

I want to run into the deep
And let the deep call out to me
I want to lose myself in Your love

So let it rain down over me
As I fall down to my knees
Let the ocean rise to meet me
I need You to bring me to life

Well of eternal things
Endless is all the life You bring
Be the water that I long for

And show me Your Kingdom Come
Father and let Your will be done
Here in me as it is in Heaven

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How Far from Here to Heaven?

Tears came as we sang “Hallelujah to the Lamb.”  We were in a small group of a dozen or so, but in my mind were other settings:  One was in church singing the same song ten days earlier with hundreds of people.  But even more, I visualized the larger choir that we were a part of:  the family of God all over the earth and in heaven—of all races and languages since the world began. 

More specifically, I pictured my newly-departed granddaughter in that choir, singing beside my dad (also who “couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket,” as he said, while on earth) and with David the psalmist—all in beautiful harmony side by side praising Jesus, the Lamb on the throne:

Lord I stand in the midst of a multitude
Of those from every tribe and tongue
We are Your people redeemed by Your blood
Rescued from death by Your love …

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!  Hallelujah to the Lamb
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! By the blood of Christ we stand
Every tongue, every tribe, every people, every land
Giving glory, giving honor, giving praise unto the Lamb of God  (by Don Moen)

I turned to my husband and asked, “How far do you think it is from here to heaven?”  We think of heaven being gazillions of light years away, somewhere outside our universe.  But I suspect it’s much, much closer than we realize—in another dimension just beyond a gauzy veil.  When our songs of praise and those of our loved ones already in God’s presence join together to delight His ears, just imagine the glory!  What a privilege to be part of that! 

One more note here:  I was blessed yesterday to read a friend’s blog about an experience in a dentist’s chair where her dentist started humming the song, “Because He Lives.”  That happened on July 3 here in the eastern hemisphere.  Calculating the difference in time, I realized that this was within the same day (July 2 in the US) when we grandparents and parents were singing that same song around the newly-vacated body of our beloved granddaughter, Emmeline.  (It was her lifelong favorite song. The lyrics are below.) Do you think someone in heaven was coordinating the music?  I think so—and with a smile. Smile Note

God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Chorus
     Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
     Because He lives, all fear is gone;
     Because I know He holds the future,
     And life is worth the living
     Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns!  (by Bill Gaither)

With Jesus

This morning when I woke up, I did not pray for our terminally ill granddaughter as I have been doing.  She is healed and happy—in Jesus’ arms, as of yesterday noon.  I am deeply grateful for this assurance that she is no longer suffering, either here in her cancer-ravaged body or in some netherworld.  My confidence is based on two things:

1)  God’s promise of total and complete forgiveness for those who turn over their lives to Him and trust Jesus’ sacrifice to save them from the punishment we all deserve for our sins.  (And yes, my sweet Emmeline was a sinner too.)

2)  We have a note from Emmeline’s parents, dated April 2008, saying how she had made this decision to ask Jesus into her life.  And her life bore out the character and Christ-likeness that He produced in her.  She was a blessing to many. 

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.  (1 Corinthians 15:55-58)

Entering LIFE

Early last Wednesday morning, two men entered God’s presence about the same time.  One was Howard Hendricks, a talented and well-loved seminary professor who had served the Lord for decades.  The other was Don, my brother’s step-father-in-law who had joined God’s family less than two years ago.  Also about that same time, a pastor with his entire family was ambushed and killed here on the island where I live, and two Egyptian Coptic Christians were brutally murdered in the United States. All of these are now enjoying together all the delights of God’s presence and the LIFE that He’s prepared for them. 

Here’s an excellent article I read recently that puts heaven in a much different perspective than we have often thought.  Our present existence is the “pre-life,“ the prelude to the real thing which these people have now begun to enjoy.  http://www.russellmoore.com/2013/02/21/why-the-afterlife-bores-us/  I hope you read and enjoy it. 

As I try to grasp the thought that my beloved granddaughter may soon be there too, my heart both aches and rejoices for her.  Or maybe the ache is what I feel for myself, missing her already.  Maybe I’m a bit envious of the  beauty, joy, love, wholeness and perfection that she will be experiencing there. But I will be joining her sooner or later, and that is the confidence that I live for. Will you be there too?  I hope so.

Two-point Perspective

My husband and I are the delighted owners of a new painting which is now gracing our living room wall. 

100_3202 - Copy

Not knowing much about art, I have no idea if this painting has “perspective,” but it did bring to mind a message we heard recently about how we should view our present realities of suffering and frustration, death and decay. (Romans 8:18-23)

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.

The two points from which we get proper perspective are the Cross (past) and Glory (future).  Then all the present, in-between stuff falls into proper place. 

As the Israelites looked back on the Exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea as their reference point, we look back to the Cross as our point of deliverance and identity.  And as they looked beyond their wilderness wanderings to being at home in their own beautiful land, we look ahead to a home in heaven.  That perspective helps me make sense of today—and tomorrow—and the next day.

Where was the Baby?

When I was a kid, we four siblings would take turns planning our family worship time in the evening.  Occasionally one of us generated an impromptu quiz in which two questions were inevitable (to give our younger brother and sister something easy to answer):  “Where was baby Moses?”  and “Where was baby Jesus?”  

NH 0166

Both of these babies were in quite unlikely places—a basket floating in a river, and a feeding trough. 

Both of them had to be rescued from kings that wanted to kill them.  Both of them rescued their people.  Both of them served as intermediaries between God and people.  Both of them lead/led their people through many hard experiences before finally reaching a wonderful destination.

My father-in-law is about to reach that destination, having walked with the Lord all his life.  As he lies there getting weaker and weaker, we anticipate the joy he will soon experience upon seeing Jesus’ face, feeling His arms around him and hearing His voice saying, “Well done, Son.  Now enjoy your new eternal home.”

Meanwhile for me still wandering around on this dangerous and difficult earth, I want to keep my hand tucked securely in that of my Shepherd.  Hmmm…mixed metaphor!  Imagine a sheep holding the shepherd’s hand Smile

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