A Mystery…Scared of Death but Longing to be with Jesus.

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday.  Although he is no longer physically with us in this life, every year on his birthday since he was promoted to glory 8 years ago, I reminisce about the private moments I shared with him in his final days.  I won’t tell you all of the private details our discussions, as some are much too precious for me to share with you.  My dad, on his deathbed, told me that he did not want to die – he even said that he was scared of dying.  He had even asked his pastor to pray for healing. Yet in the last private moment with just my Dad and me, he also told me, “I know I am going to meet Jesus, and I find comfort in that.”  This is a mystery that baffled me  – how can a person be afraid to die yet at the same time look forward to meeting their savior? The separation of body and soul through death is one of the certainties of life.  Along with taxes, so the old saying goes.  You will die & I will die.  Bodily death is God’s judgment on sin.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned— Rom. 5:12;

This separation of body and soul at death is symbolic of our spiritual separation from God that first brought about physical death.  This separation from God will be intensified after death for those who leave this world without Christ. In my dad’s case, it was not a fear of death, but a fear of the unpleasantness of dying that he did not want to experience. Jesus is my dad’s risen Savior, whom my dad wanted to be with. What my dad understood was that Jesus went through a more traumatic death than any Christian will ever have to face, even my dad’s painful death from cancer was nothing compared to what Jesus endured.  Jesus suffered death – the complete separation from God – as payment for our sins.  In so doing, He defeated death, was resurrected and he now lives to sustain us when we physically die. Yes, He will be there as we move out of this fallen world to the place he has prepared for us.

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:2-3

Do you view your own inevitable death as a date with Jesus that he has graciously scheduled in his calendar?  Paul stated in his letter to the Philippians, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain…. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far”, since “away from the body” will mean “at home with the Lord”

You have heard the term – “promoted to glory.” Do you know what that means? At death the souls of believers are promoted to glory or “glorified” which means that we will be perfected in holiness and enter into the life of heaven.

“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” Heb. 12:22-24

In death our destiny is complete and final, after death there is no possibility of salvation for the lost. From then on both the believer and the unbeliever reap what they sowed in this life.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Gal. 6:7-8

So death is gain for believers because after death we will be perfected in Holiness and we will be with Jesus Christ. But at the same time we were created to be both body and soul. After death we are not wholly how God intended us to be at creation.  This is why Paul wants to be “clothed” with his resurrection body rather than be “unclothed.” To enjoy our resurrected bodies in the presence of God at the coming of the new earth is the true Christian hope. Life in the space between death and resurrection is better than the life in this fallen world, so the life of resurrection will be better still. This is what God has promised for my dad, and for me, and for you and for all his children – if you believe.  Glory to God.

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.2 Cor. 5:4-5;  

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.Phil. 3:20-21

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