Yet another grave!

wordswag_1493376554204Yesterday I stood next to yet another grave and spoke those words ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ as we laid the body of my father in law in the ground. Grief has become a familiar friend. I did not sob, but I felt a kind of confusion; torn by mixed emotions. I believe Dad Catalano lives on, in the Presence of God. I am, none the less, left with loss. My grief is tinged with anger – “why must life be sad?” – too. There is an echo of Eden in all of us. We sense that life is not all it should be, don’t we?  I find that death provokes anger in many people.

We find it in the Bible! John tells us that when Lazarus died, Mary and Martha became furious. Their question “Why?”  They turned to their Friend and in a tone of accusation wondered why He did not come to save their brother. (John 11)   Jesus’ tears at the tomb were not just sorrow at the loss of his friend. John tells us that He was ‘deeply moved and troubled,’  words that indicate more than just sadness.  Jesus was angry, too!  Death was an offense, the result of sin.  Paul, too, makes no peace with death as something natural. He calls death ‘the last enemy.’   “Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:24-26, NLT)

Christians may join Dylan Thomas in ”rage against the dying of the light” but we do not join Shakespeare in despair!  The poet put these words in the mouth of Macbeth after he heard of the death of his queen. “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  We cannot read those lines without feeling the complete despair that death brings to so many who have no reason to hope. But, in Christ, we have GREAT hope.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes the story of humanity.  “In Adam all die,”  the Word says, but “in Christ all will be made alive.”  (1 Corinthians 15:22)  Our bodies will perish, part of this world, but we will live.  What does this mean?  It is not just for funerals. It is not just an idea to be remembered in cemeteries.  The hope of the Resurrection creates a whole new way of living now.  Look at this verse.  “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4, NIV)

My anger is real but it is tempered by my hope. I take the Scripture’s promise to heart and find peace. Here is what the Spirit teaches us.  Our RICHEST portion of “life” is secreted away with Christ, held secure by God Himself. Ponder that!  We exist for something more than getting our food for another day,  going to work on Monday morning to make more money, or finding some pleasurable moment.  Our life is even more than the experiences of the joy of family or laughter with friends as sweet as those things can be.  Our true life is a gift of God and it will only fully appear when Christ’s Kingdom is fully revealed at His coming.  Faith allows us to own that life and to taste it now, but only then will we know what God planned for us all along.

Does the hope of knowing eternal life – the amazing life with no darkness, no disappointment, none of the limits that sin has imposed on this world;  draw you into godly hope, real joy, and out of anger? The promise of that secret life kept in Heaven for us will change us.

Here is the word from the Word.  May the Spirit make it a living truth for those of us who live in a dying world. “It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. … If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have! … Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. “ (Matthew 6:21, 23, 33, The Message)

_____________

Beulah land, I’m longing for you
And someday, on thee I’ll stand
Where my home shall be eternal
Beulah land, sweet Beulah land

 I’m kind of homesick for a country
Where I’ve never been before
No sad goodbyes will there be spoken
For time won’t matter anymore

 I’m looking now across the river
Where my faith is gonna end in sight
There’s just a few more days to labor
And then I’ll take my heavenly flight

wordswag_1493376554204 Where my home shall be eternal
Beulah land, sweet Beulah land

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