I can’t believe how fast time moves: today (January 21) would’ve been Lois’ 63rd birthday. Instead, she is already in Heaven basking in a City which is indescribably beautiful. I am fully confident she is with God, not because she was good; not because she helped scores of people; not because she prayed with people to accept Christ; not because she was a great wife, mother, and grandmother. Lois is in Heaven because Jesus redeemed her from sin and evil and she accepted that gift of salvation and followed Christ. In the end, Lois received the desire of her heart: to be with the God and Father of her Lord, Jesus Christ. She is experiencing all the wonder and fulfillment of Heaven.
When we think about Heaven, we often repeat Paul’s words, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21) But what does that mean? We live in the tension between the already and the not yet. We know God has prepared a personal place for those who have placed their trust in Him; it’s already done. But we are not there yet. Our loved ones who have gone ahead of us are embracing and enjoying the total presence of God in the very place that God intended for them from before the beginning.
Not one of us is immune to death; apart from the return of Christ, every one of us will die. Death comes in many forms: old age, chronic illness, accidents, cancer, or some unforeseen sudden failure of a critical organ in our body. Death is coming. But we are living between the already and the not yet.
As Christ-followers we have the opportunity (or obligation?) to respond to death in a way that is Biblically informed; an attitude which sets us apart. As Believers we know that death is not the end – it is actually the beginning. We know that death is not to be feared because to be “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2Cor 5:8). We know that eternal life as joint heirs with Christ is to be valued far more than all the riches this world could possibly offer.
Whenever the negative emotions creep in, I remind myself that I am not on the throne, God is! His power and grace and mercy and presence are what I need – and I need that far more than I need Lois! Do I miss Lois? Yes. But I fully recognize that this journey isn’t about me. It’s all about God – the maker of the heavens and the earth; the great Giver who sent His only Son to pay the price for my sin; the Master of the universe who cares so much about me that He knows my every thought. So I center my thoughts on Him and live between the already and the not yet.