Burying a Friend is Hard to Do

waterfallaLast week, I lost a sweet friend. He wasn’t a best friend but he was the best. At the young age of 49 he left two sons and a wife behind.  His time on this earth was short yet rich in laughter and full of hope.  He was thoughtful, gentle and rarely said an unkind word about anyone.  He was just the type of person you wanted to work with because he had a way of making your job regularly enjoyable.  He understood the meaning of the world ‘balance’ and often employed his unique talent of lightening up a tense conversation by chuckling his way through it.  Those of us who worked with him and knew him well ….will miss him.

It is times like these when our flawed, deceitful thoughts seek to devour our humanness, searching for minute, penetrable cracks and crevices to infiltrate, confuse and frustrate even the strongest of souls.  It’s easy to pull out the “Why God’s” and “Why didn’t you, God’s” out of our pocket and revel in them.

Yet God, in His sovereign mercy, knew better than we did.  He had a unique purpose and a concrete plan for Brit.  This plan included his untimely earthly death.  I don’t think Brit was worried one bit about keeping this divine appointment.  Every genuine word spoken about Brit at his funeral made it abundantly clear that his love for God spilled brilliantly over those he knew and loved.  His family knew this also.  They bravely accepted that God had another plan for Brit, exhibiting a perspective that can only come from one source….their Creator.

In times like these, we want to call God’s assurance of mercy into question…..as if we, the supposed author of all intelligence and wisdom could possibly know more than our sovereign Father Creator God, whose infinite nature gives the appearance of being incomprehensible, yet to those He has chosen is completely acceptable and understandable.  God is accessible to us, yet our human nature desires to cripple us — telling us to be like those who do not have even the tiniest mustard seed of faith.  Our mind proposes endless rationales which we use to remind God that this….this should not have happened.  Our fear, as honest as it is, originates in the perception of an uncertain forever future.

I believe it helps to look at human death as a disruption.  The minute we are born, we immediately begin the process of dying.  God never intended for us to experience this kind of physical death in the first place.  Through Adam’s disobedience we have inherited a sinful, unrighteous nature for which the penalty is physical death.  God, in His infinite mercy, protected us by removing us from His very presence because the penalty of our disobedience was to experience the full wrath of God.  God protected us from His wrath. Have you ever given this any thought?  God, in His mercy, protected you and me from His wrath by casting us out into a fallen world away from His presence.  God is holy and just. He cannot stand in the presence of sin.  How marvelous is the love of the Father for His children!  How thankful we who believe are to be called His children!  Romans 8:18-39

The good news is:  a full atonement was made for this huge legacy of sin that has plagued us for all time.  This was accomplished by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross (he being the perfect unblemished Lamb) which paid the entire debt free and clear.  In our injustice, God made us just before Himself by sacrificing His very own Son on our behalf.   1 John 4:13-21

When we pass from this world, we enter into the next.  There is a new heaven and a new earth waiting for us.  Some perceive that this world is an ethereal make-believe world of floating clouds and rainbows.  This notion is a false idea introduced to our culture by the Greeks.  No, our new home will be a real new heaven and new earth where we will live in full communion and fellowship with our Creator God, completely restored to an image God originally planned for us.  We were first made perfect…..in His creation.  Through our disobedience, sin entered our world.  When we accept Him as the atoning sacrifice for our sin, we are made perfect once again in Him.  In death, our perfection is completed.  For the Christian, this gives us assurance of a forever future.  Some may doubt our faith, but our faith is not a blind faith.  It is rational, historically-accurate and will come to pass.  When we die, we are finally restored….our broken bodies made whole.  We will have beautifully restored resurrected bodies that no longer deteriorate in sickness or crumble in pain.  We will be wholly complete in Him.    2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

The term ‘resurrected bodies’ can be confusing.  The easiest way to possibly glimpse what we will become in eternity is to consider the resurrected body of Jesus.  It was physical.  He ate; he drank. Upon resurrection, His body was imperishable, thus we see a vague vignette of our future life with Christ. We cannot know the fullness of what we will become for certain, but we do know this:  we will know the fullness of our God in all His Majesty. We know that the fullness of deity in human form is Jesus.   Colossians 2:9 Nothing can separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus.    Romans 8: 19-39

In the first garden, everything was wonderful.  We were created in God’s image with a purpose:  to glorify Him and to live in close fellowship with Him in that very garden.  Our new home will be like that first one, only perfected in God’s glory.  We will finally and completely live in renewed fellowship with our Creator.  God didn’t have to do that for us.  Yet, in His mercy, He ordained from that very moment of our disobedience to save us……only made possible because of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for our sins.     Genesis 3:15

How glorious to put our competitive and self-absorbed natures behind us and understand that rest awaits those who believe in His salvation for us — that we will live on a new earth in His presence.  Ruptured relationships will not suffer the pain of human brokenness any longer.  Arguments about Global Warming will cease to be of any significance……because our new earth will be perfect and whole.  We, the Church at large, those chosen by Him before the beginning of time, will fellowship in unity before our Father…..forever.  We will not bring our earthly treasures with us; those things that possess and obsess us.  Our treasure will be …… GOD.

Is this an injustice?  Absolutely not.    Romans 9: 14-16

In Jeremiah, God reminded the faithless Hebrew people that from the beginning of time, His plans were known.  His plans are for our good – even when we don’t see the good in them.  Brit knew that.  Thank you, Father, for one more shining example of a life lived well…..for You.

Jeremiah 29:11-13    For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.   Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.   You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

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