Death, Where is your Sting?

By B.J. Funk

Realizing that he would soon be gone from this world, Dwight L. Moody said to a friend, “Someday you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody is dead. Don’t you believe it. At that moment, I will be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal, a body that sin cannot touch, that sin cannot taint. I was born in the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of flesh may die; that which is born of the Spirit will live forever.”

When we awake in the morning, we only know we were asleep because we awoke. Explaining exactly what happened is impossible. We cannot explain moving from consciousness to sleep any more than we can explain moving from life to death.  We only know that we move out of one life into another life, never dying but continuing to live. In a moment, without knowing how, we discard the jacket called our body. It is no longer useful. We only needed our body in order to live on earth.  That’s over now.

Someone put on the grave of Benjamin Franklin, “Here lies all that could die of Benjamin Franklin.”

One of my favorite devotionals concerning death comes from Streams in the Desert. In speaking of his soon coming death, the author wrote, “The owner of the tenement which I have occupied for many years has given notice that he will furnish but little or nothing more for repairs. I am advised to be ready to move. At first, this was not a very welcomed notice. The surroundings here are in many respects very pleasant, and were it not for the evidence of decay, I should consider the house good enough. But, even a light wind causes it to tremble and totter, and all the braces are not sufficient to make it secure. So, I am getting ready to move.”

Watching family members die has given me a new appreciation for God’s plan for us. While the process of death can be excruciatingly painful and sad, death is the only avenue we have for unconquerable pain to end. There is no other way for us to get out of a diseased or broken body other than death. Death is what God uses to transfer us from one life to another. With that in mind, death is another of God’s gifts to us. In a flash, we move our residence from earth to heaven, where complete healing takes place.

Where do we go when this happens? Jesus says we go to his Father’s House. These are some of the sweetest words every recorded. We are given a beautiful illustration of where we will be. Not just any house, but my Father’s house. I wonder if it is something like my grandparent’s big, rambling white house, which had so many bedrooms and interesting places for my sister and me to hide. My favorite place was the large front porch lined with rocking chairs. I was completely content rocking at Grandma’s house.

In John 14:1-4, Jesus says, (paraphrased), “Don’t worry. Instead trust God. There are a lot of rooms in my Father’s house. I’ll go before you and get everything ready. Then, I’ll come back and get you so you can be where I am.”

Added to the enchanting invitation to go to my Father’s house is now the endearing understanding that Jesus is there. He goes before us, as a forerunner.  What could be better than going to the Father’s house and finding Jesus waiting for us.  I don’t really need to know any more about heaven. If Jesus is there, that’s enough.

William Barclay suggests that “many rooms” means that there is room for all.  An earthly house can become overcrowded, but our Father’s house is as wide as the heart of God. Barclay further suggests, “Don’t be afraid. In this world, people may shut their doors upon you. But in heaven, you will never be shut out.”

Near death experiences support our understanding of another life after this one. Reassuring stories are told by some who claim an out of body experience before coming back to earth. A recurring theme includes a bright light and a tunnel. We might question the validity of this. However, there are enough believers to have established a Near Death Experience Research Foundation whose website claims 2500 near death experiences.

Several years ago, a popular country song reminded us to “Live Like We Were Dying.” Truthfully, every day we live, we are dying. It is not until we actually die that we truly begin to live. Our new home will be cozy, joyful, colorful and peaceful, sort of like rocking at Grandma’s house.