May 19, 2007

Funerals are not the end. . .

Our neighbor’s mother died last week. The funeral is today. We didn’t know her mother, but Judy invited us to her funeral. I debated. At first I thought yes, then no, then yes, then we are too busy, then, this morning the Holy Spirit whispered from James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble . . . .”

Judy’s father died about nine months ago. She may be several decades old, but she is now an orphan, so I’m dressed and ready to go to a funeral.

Funerals are often very sad affairs. People are seldom prepared for the death of those they love, even when illness lasts a long time. Our neighbor is a bit different. She is a medical doctor and knew it was coming. She also knows Jesus. When her father fell ill, she was so distraught that she began reading the Bible, aloud, at his bedside. Through the power of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, she began to realize that Jesus died for her sins, was buried, and rose again. He alone offers eternal life to those who put their faith in Him.

Judy did that. So did her father and her mother. She knows that she will see both of them again in glory. The funeral will be sad, but hopefully some of us will be able to celebrate the reality that this woman’s life is not over but just beginning.

My verse for today is Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

“These things . . .” refer to what was written about His second coming and the end of time, yet this verse could sum up the entire New Testament. Jesus came to tell those who put their faith in Him that we are blessed because we have obeyed His command to believe. Because of that, we “have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (verse 14). Those who insist on running their own lives and who let sin dominate everything they do will not enter.

That is the biggest reason most funerals are sad. Those in attendance have no assurance of their eternal destiny. The fear of death has held them in bondage all their lives, and at the end of a life, they are still afraid, and for good reason.

Judy isn’t afraid. Her father wasn’t either, nor her mother. Their knowledge of biblical doctrine was limited, but no matter; they knew Jesus and they knew His promise of their right to the tree of life through faith in Him.

Judy misses them both; she is an only child, but because He lives, they live also. For that, we can rejoice and praise God with her at this funeral.

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