How suddenly life can change. Last week we were with relatives from Colorado visiting our two southern California presidential libraries - Nixon and Reagan. Both are so lovely in their surroundings and so rich in history. We enjoyed each other's company and the near perfect weather. We drove by towns on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, saw marinas filled with sailboats, ate good meals and enjoyed the change of pace. When we arrived home we learned of the death of a very good friend, Dean. We also discovered that the daughter of another good friend had died, so young, too soon to lose her. A dark cloud had invaded our peace and contentment.
It only took a few moments for the Lord to remind us of His teachings. Over and over again, we experience that when it comes to spiritual truth, God alone can bring it to memory and apply it to our life. Try as we might, we can't do it without Him.
This is another of the "Ten Most Important Things About God."
# 6 God is in control of life and death.
It seems to me that believer and un-believer alike innately know this to be true. So often we hear of someone who, given their condition, should not survive, but they do. And, those you'd expect to survive, don't. I could give you a whole list of verses that claim the Lord's timing is perfect. He has a plan and a purpose for each life He creates. When we're done here, He calls us home. Maybe we can think of it as a "manufacturers re-call." We all belong to Him and He has the right to take back what He has given - life.
God has painted a beautiful canvas of our life in all its glorious uniqueness. The picture may become blurred to us as we live day by day. At times we experience confusion, sorrow, and sometimes a feeling of defeat. God will balance these days with the gift of faith, love and peace. When He does, we get a clear picture of what is "good" in our life.
Ecclesiastes 7:2 tells us that "death is the destiny of every man." We all will die. We know that to be true in our head, but our heart often doesn't want to accept this, so when the time comes to lose a loved one, we're not prepared.
Friends and family have their place in helping us through the most difficult of days, but it's the Lord who knows exactly what we need. I can think back many years ago when I was in my early teens. Friends of our family lost their son in a motorcycle accident. He'd just returned from the Army and started college. This was a Christian family, however as this son entered his teens, he seemed to lose faith. After his death, his parents were in agony wondering if their son had denied Christ. One night they had just gone to bed and turned off the light. Suddenly, they saw a glow in the corner of the room. They watched in amazement as the figure of Jesus appeared in a brilliant white robe and spoke to them; "Denny is with me." That is all Jesus said. It was enough; his parents knew their son was in heaven.
Our friend Dean loved music. He could sing and play various instruments. He was very humble in assessing his abilities, never boastful and certainly didn't parade his gifts. The night after he left to be with the Lord, he appeared to his wife, Karen. He told her, "I'm in the band and I didn't even need to audition." That is so Dean! She was having trouble falling asleep when she experienced him lying on the bed next to her with his arm around her and he told her, "I'll stay here until you go to sleep". His death was so sudden, God knew she needed to say good-by.
We fear sometimes that our loved one has "died alone". We don't die alone; the Bible can give us peace that believers are taken to heaven by angels. In Luke 16:22, the Bible describes a scene in which angels escort a "beggar" to Abraham's side in heaven. Those who don't believe are taken somewhere else. You don't want to go there and be eternally separated from God.
Socrates, the Greek philosopher who laid the foundation for Western philosophy, died before Christ in the year 399. He had some interesting things to say...
"Death is a migration of the soul from this place to another".
He also seemed to recognize, to some degree, that God is sovereign over all things. He said,
"Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us." This is very much like the statement made in Romans 8:26-27. The Holy Spirit knows what we need.
Webster's dictionary defines death as "Permanent ending of all life." Those who believe in Jesus as our risen Lord and Savior know this is NOT true. Jesus rose to new life to show us that we also will be raised to new life. Read through Luke, Chapter 24, You will be blessed.
God gets to decide when we'll enter that "new life". If you look at Job 14 you'll see that "Man's days are determined; you (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed" - vs 5. "Surely then you will count my steps..." - vs 16. When I know God is sovereign over my life, peace comes. Sorrow may linger, but all fear is gone. The book of Isaiah gives such good insight.
"Oh Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago." Isaiah 25:1
Death, just like life, was planned long ago by God. In fact, Psalm 139 tells us every day of our life has been written in a book, before there was one.
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3
This is how you come to terms with the death of a loved one - you keep focused on Jesus and the truth of the Scripture.
I think in Bible verses. I don't know one thing on my own, but I do trust the Scripture to be God's faithful Word. I read that God has written that whoever hears His word and believes has eternal life and will not be condemned - John 5:24. I also read in John 14:6 that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us and He will return to take us to be where He is - wow, that's heaven where God will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain - Revelations 21:4. I know from Scripture that we will "enter God's rest" - Hebrews 4:10, and be made "perfect forever" - Hebrews 10:14.
If you will, equate a day to a life. I don't have the exact quote, but Socrates said that sometime you need to wait for evening to come to know how good the day has been. Could it be true that sometime we need to wait for death to know how good a life has been?
Thank you Lord for the life of those we love. Remind us daily of your commandment to "love one another", and just as you have forgiven us, we can forgive others. We are so totally dependent on the Holy Spirit to shed Your love in our hearts (Romans 5:5). Help us to cherish each memory and trust in your faithfulness.
Bobbe Van Hise
- Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.