On The Other Side Of The Door

Last evening I attended a service of remembrance and celebration for the life of a friend who has recently passed away.  It was an atmosphere of shared grief mingled with a tender joy in knowing that our friend is indeed now in heaven.  The joy he is experiencing is immeasurable.

After the service a friend shared a story that touched me very much and filled me with a sense of quiet thrill at what lies ahead, when the time of my own journey on earth, comes to an end.  The story goes that someone she knows was visiting a friend.  It was the first time at this friend’s house.  At one point during the visit, the owner of the home excused himself and left the room for a moment.  During that time there sounded from another door in the room a peculiar noise.  The man strained to listen and identify  what he was hearing.  It seemed to him to be a sort of muffled thud.  For a moment he was slightly fearful because the noise was so strange and grew louder.  Finally, he stood, walked across the room, and carefully opened the door.  In bounded a most exuberant large dog, tail wagging, body twisting in happiness, as if the man whom he had never seen before, was a long lost friend.

The lady telling this story at our gathering last evening went on to say that this story reminded her of how it will be when we get to heaven.  She said at times when we think of death we might sense a shiver of fear because it’s an unknown.  What happens to us the moment we take our last breath on earth?  Will it hurt?  Will it be dark?  Will one be alone?  She said that all those fears of the unknown will be instantly replaced with the greatest of joy because when the door of death opens, in bounds the most exuberant of joy when our eyes catch our first sight of Jesus; His loving eyes peering into ours with indescribable love and welcome.

“We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.  We eagerly wait for Him…”  Philippians 3:20

When we know Him, truly know Him. fear of death may come to our minds from time to time because we are mere humans, but when that moment comes that we appear at death’s door, what glorious wonder, peace, and joy will flood into our being, and this joy will not be temporary.  It will last for eternity.

A Promised Reunion

This week I attended the funeral of a very dear friend.  When I was much younger I dreaded the very thought of a funeral.  It seemed a scary thing to me.  Now, my understanding has deepened.  I have come to understand that for the one who personally knows Jesus, a funeral is not merely an acknowledgement of death; it is a celebration of life lifted to a new height.  The spirit has left earth to see the face of Jesus.

What a promise to everyone who knows Him.  Just think, the moment we exhale our last breath on earth, we inhale our first breath in sheer paradise.  Sickness is suddenly vanished.  Tears are no more.  Pain is gone, never to return.  Grief, despair, tiredness have all ceased to exist.  Loneliness can never be known again.  Feelings of low self esteem and rejection will never touch us.

When we try our best to imagine this reality, the very thought sends, what I call, joy bumps all over.  Someone we love may have passed on to their new life and we are saddened not to see them for awhile; but indeed, it is only for awhile.  Parting is not forever for those who are counted as God’s own children; it’s just a temporary separation.  It’s a time not to dwell on the departure, but to look forward to the reunion.

That must be why Paul could say in II Corinthians 5:8, “Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.”  Our earthly homes are just a part of our pilgrimage as we pass through life on earth, en route to our final destination, which is to behold the face of the One who made the only way for us to have eternal life with Him.

As the old hymn says, “What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see, and I look upon His face, the One who saved me by His grace.”