Recently I have been through one of those weeks that taxes the emotions to the “max”. I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death and have experienced the mountaintop of a transformed life. Where do I begin?
My first friend Bob is about 6’2’’ tall, 240 lbs. with a sprinkling of gray throughout his hair. Bob is the CEO of a major corporation inArkansas that operates nation-wide. Most travelers have seen the corporate logo on vehicles many times while traveling the roads of this country. He is highly respected and one of those people you meet and immediately feel as though you have known him all your life.
Not long ago Bob laid to rest his 28 year old son who died unexpectedly. His son was an outdoorsman in great health and the “heir apparent” to the corporation. He passed away and no one knows why. The autopsy indicated no known cause of death. And amid confusion, sorrow, many questions and much pain, this young son was laid to rest.
My second friend named Bob is also 6’2’’ tall, about 240 lbs. with a sprinkling of gray throughout his hair. Bob is the Executive Director of a major fund raising organization, also located inArkansas. He is well known and another one of those rare individuals who, after meeting, you feel you have known him for all your life.
Recently my second friend Bob came to me and said, “Milt, my 32 year old daughter has come home!!” I smiled with Bob and mentioned that he certainly must have had a great visit with his daughter! He looked at me and replied, “Oh Milt, you don’t understand. My daughter, after many years, came home to Christ”. It is not possible within the English language to express adequately the joy that filled this man’s eyes. His smile was so broad he could have swallowed an apple whole.
I have been thinking about my two friends named Bob. Their respective experiences so different yet so similar in many ways.
As I looked into the eyes of my first friend Bob, the love for his son shone brightly through the tears and pain. The separation brought on by physical death would never change the fact of his love. The hurt went deep but the resolve to love went deeper. His son had now experienced physical death and was now present in the infinite, eternal life that waits for all. The pain of dreams that would never be achieved was evident but the assurance of an eternal hope in Christ was equally evident.
As I looked into the eyes of my second friend Bob, the love for his daughter shone brightly through tears of joy. Years of prayer and faithfulness before the Lord, much commitment and plain old hard work taking care of grandchildren had left many marks around the edges of his eyes and forehead. Yet this man no longer felt the pain of heartache all too often common to parents. The joy of dreams to be fulfilled was evident within the assurance of an eternal hope in Christ. My, oh my.
One child, a son, reminds us that our physical death and eternal destination are but a moment away. It may come without explanation. It may come in the midst of an exciting and fulfilling life. It may come as we strive to not miss out on any part of life. It reminds us to ask whether we are ready for just such a moment as that. It reminds us of the greatness of God and His faithfulness. It reminds us that there still stands today one empty tomb, one resurrected Son of God.
One child, a daughter, reminds us that our spiritual life and eternal destination are but a moment away. This, however, comes with an explanation. It is called the love and grace of God. It may come in the midst of an exciting and fulfilling life. It may come as we strive to not miss out on any part of life. It may also come in the midst of a discouraged and distressed life. It reminds us that God’s love is without limit and carries no conditions. It reminds us that there still stands today one empty tomb, one resurrected Son of God.
Another similarity in these two experiences causes within me a sense of awe and reverence. In both experiences, the matter of “self” is dealt with forever. We can die to “self” as a result of physical death or we can die to “self” of our own choosing and live for Christ. In either event, the matter of “self” is settled. God leaves it to us to choose. To take an ax to the roots of the tree of “self” is an arduous, painful, tearful, stressful, challenging, sometimes discouraging, always fulfilling task. To set aside the desires of “self” on this side of life and to place our faith and trust in Christ results in a promised abundant life, an eternal destination that begins right now seated with Christ in the heavenlies. I know this because the Bible says so. I also know this because of the tears of pain and the tears of joy shed by my two friends named Bob.