Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It Is Not Death to Die

Three months ago my dad passed away. There were a number of us who had shared the Gospel with him throughout his life with increased passion in his last days. On his deathbed, my dad professed faith in Christ, praise be to God. I certainly miss him a lot, there’s not a day that passes that I don’t think of him. His favorite singer-songwriter, John Prine, has been playing nearly every day since my dad was in the ICU for the first time.

Just days before he went into septic shock, ultimately resulting in cardiac arrest, my dad went from being terrified of the unknown to embracing it. Something in his heart changed. He no longer feared the grave and I am convinced it is because he knew what it would bring.

While I never had the opportunity to read Revelation 21 to my dad, I know he must have dreamt up some magnificent image of heaven because he had peace. Though I miss my dad like crazy, and there’s not a day that passes without me thinking of him, I know he’s in a place without liver disease where his former self can no longer ruin his inheritance.

For my dad, “the old is gone and the new has come.” Where he is, there is no more sin or suffering or death. They’ve been forever banished. The fatal infection of evil has given way to Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. The new is so radically different than what we are experiencing here that sin and evil and corruption are nonexistent.

Why would I want my dad back here? There are some pretty awful days at times just thinking back at all the memories I’ve shared with him, but there will be a day when we meet again. I know I am not the only person who has lost a loved one who is hidden in Christ. There is a lot of glorious hope for us. “When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we will sing and shout the victory!”

For the Christian, death is not a curse. Our deaths will bring us to the glorious mansion God is preparing for us. It will be radically different than any mansion on earth. The Church will no longer be persecuted by the nations. We will be the adorned Bride of Christ, presented without spot or blemish, having unhindered fellowship with God himself. Though my dad did not profess faith until his last days, for the remainder of eternity he will dwell in the presence of God, giving him all honor and praise.

We have a bright future if we are hid in Christ. God is reversing the curse that entered the world through human sin. No longer will there be tears or mourning or pain. My dad is not crying. He is not suffering. He has been healed and we will be too. We do not mourn as those who have no hope.

“It is not death to die, to leave this weary road and join the saints who dwell on high, who’ve found their home with God. It is not death to close the eyes long dimmed by tears and wake in joy before your throne, delivered from our fears. O Jesus, conquering the grave, your precious blood has power to save. Those who trust in You will in Your mercy find that it is not death to die. It is not death to fling aside this earthly dust and rise with strong and noble wing, to live among the just. It is not death to hear the key unlock the door that sets us free from mortal years, to praise you ever more. It is not death to close the eyes long dimmed by tears. It is not death to die,” (Bob Kauflin, “It Is Not Death to Die”).

Just a few nights after his death I had a dream about my dad. You see, he had cirrhosis and Hepatitis C, but he also did everything imaginable that could cause either so we don’t know when it all started. In the final stages of cirrhosis, your liver quits functioning and the fluid that normally filters through builds up in your abdomen instead. Eventually, the swelling gets worse and worse. It was nothing for the doctors to remove 14 liters of fluid per week from my dad’s stomach. In his last couple of months they could not do this because of the danger of infection or cardiac arrest. The night before he died, the doctors removed about one or two liters and that was all it took for his blood pressure to drop.

Doctors were not able to save my dad. They were powerless in the face of death. Yet Christ conquered death. The doctors could not reverse the effects of sin or the toll it took on my dad. Yet Christ defeated sin.

For two months my dad was limited in his food and fluid intake. His body was hungry, yet he could not eat anything. His mouth was constantly dry, yet his body was not filtering fluid. It’s been said that when a person is dying, the best thing you can do for them physically is provide comfort, typically by keeping their mouth moist. In those last days, Christ poured out his living water into my dad’s soul, free of cost. Now he thirsts no more.

My dad will live forever with our heavenly Father. One day I will see him on the other side, when I get where I’m going. You see, for Christians, we are no longer citizens in this world. We are nomads passing through, sharing the Gospel of Christ with those we come in contact with along the way. One day we will be in our majestic home, dwelling with our heavenly Father for eternity. He will be our God and we will be his sons.

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it (Revelation 21:22-27a ESV).

“Oh death, where is your sting? Oh hell, where is your victory?”

“It is not death to die.”

No comments:

Post a Comment