Thoughts to Ponder

Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?
Ecclesiastes 8:7

Absent From The Body

If you knew without a doubt that you would die before sunrise tomorrow, how would you spend your day? Would you do things differently?

Would you go to work? Would you try to get a raise? Invest your money? Go to a sporting event? There is nothing wrong with any of these things, but I bet that you would not spend your last day on earth doing any of them.

Would you spend time with your family? Would you try to tie up loose ends so that your family does not have to worry about them when you are gone? Would you think about Christ? Would you talk to anyone about Christ and their need for Him in their life?

This would be the last time you would have a chance to talk to people. I think that most of us would live our last day on earth differently than all the other days if we only knew it was our last day.

The problem is we don't know, this could be our last day on this earth, whether because we are going to die or because Christ might come back for us before morning.

When we are gone will our lives make a difference to this world? Will anyone look at your lives and think that they saw just a portion of God's glory and grace through your life? If the answer is no, then we need to take a close look at ourselves.

A few years ago while I was out of God's will, living my life the way I thought I wanted to, I wrote a poem. I don't have a copy of it now, but it was about my thoughts on my death. The whole poem centered around who might come stand near my grave and shed a tear that I was gone. I must admit it was a very touching poem, but for all the wrong reasons. It was full of despair. There was no hope in it at all. I felt all alone in the world. My marriage had failed, I had voluntarily separated myself from my family. I had no real close friends. Most of all I had taken my Savior, Jesus Christ, and placed Him in box and put Him in the closet.

I had no hope because I saw no future. It became meaningful to me to think of someone grieving at my grave site. I felt that the only way to judge if you had touched anyone's life is to see if they shed tears at your passing.

That is a human view through the eyes of hopelessness. I no longer look through those eyes. I now see with my spiritual eyes. I see beyond the grave now. I see my Savior's nail scarred hands and feet, I see His gentle loving face, beckoning me home.

I no longer want anyone to shed a tear at my grave, because I will not be there. I will not spend one minute in that cold, dark, damp, lonely place. The moment my soul is released from this body I will be escorted through the enemies territory (the air) to my Savior's side. This is my view and I want to give a couple of the verses that make me think this is what happens when we die. Acts 7:59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 2 Corinthians 5:8 "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." 2 Corinthians 12:4 "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know--God knows. And I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows- was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell." In that last verse Paul talks about paradise being in heaven and if you take that with what Jesus said to the thief I think it shows we go to be in His presence when we die. Luke 23:43 "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

My body will be in that earthly grave but I won't be with it. One day that tired old body will be raised up and glorified and I will be reunited with it, but even then I will not ever be in that grave!

If I should die before Jesus comes to take His church out of this world, I don't want anyone shedding tears on my grave, this is not to mean I would not want people to miss me, but I would much rather they went into God's house and worshiped Him. I cannot know, but I like to think that those who have gone before us are allowed to join in the celebration with the Angels when we worship the King here on earth. If that is true then those who mourn for me will be much closer to me when they are worshiping in our Father's house than when they stand close to my discarded body. I also want a salvation message preached at my funeral. Is there a more important time to preach salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ than when people are mourning the loss of a loved one?

What a comfort it is to know that a loved one who passes away will be in heaven when you arrive! There is no hopelessness in that, there is only hope and joy. Of course it is natural for us to mourn and feel a sense of loss when a loved one dies, but if you feel a sense of hopelessness like the pagans or the atheists then there is something missing in your life.

I recently received this message and I believe it shows what our attitude should be when it comes to our deaths. This young girl has a lot of wisdom and a blessed assurance.

I am a nurse...and have dealt with death on a daily basis... I work in an oncology department at a regional medical center.

The emotions that you described... are mine.. I have been on the verge of giving up nursing due to the stress involved... until... last summer... one night while I was working, a child was admitted... the hardest part of my job is working with dying kids.

It broke my heart to see the pain the child was in, but that child looked up at me and told me.... "don't cry for me, I will not have my pain much longer, for God is taking me home to live with him. You can cry for yourself, please do not shed tears of sadness for me." and with that, I sat with this child of great wisdom of faith.... and we shared our fears, delights, and our love of Christ. How wonderful that a young child could touch my heart, and give me the healing my soul needed to continue my work as a nurse..... and for my Lord.

Many have said I have a healing touch. This child healed me... And now, I will continue my work in oncology remembering the strong, healing voice from that frail, pain filled body for the rest of my life...

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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