Wednesday, October 5, 2011
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints"
Tonight I was meditating on this verse and the implications that it has for death and how our Heavenly Father views dying. As I look back over this last season of life, I see the ways that death has touched our lives.
Death has reared it's ugly head more than once in my circle of friends and loved ones recently. We said goodbye to Chris Klicka and Tom Flavin, both amazing husbands, homeschool fathers, and friends and mentors to many (many more than they knew) when illness ended their lives. Then we said goodbye to Darly Martin, (http://heartfireintl.org/2011/09/daryl-video/) also a husband and father who was serving on the mission field in Malawi with his family when a tragic accident occurred.
Death has made his way into my homeschool curriculum and thus discussions with my children as we read Patricia St. John's Tanglewood's Secret. (Her books explain amazing scriptural truths in simple easy to understand ways right through the story. I highly recommend reading them with your family, by the way! Here is a link http://www.kingsleypress.com/patricia-st-john.html)
Death has even made his way into the John Piper audios that Peter and I have been listening to over time. (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/victor-watters-converses-with-death)
Ugly. This was how I had always looked at death. I had seen him before and he was ugly, scary, and intimidating. During my teen years, I lost three great-grandparents and three grandparents along with several close family friends. I also lost a friend that had been an elementary school mate of mine in a tragic car accident at the age of 15.
Peter, too had experienced death in his childhood with the loss of his big sister, Christy, whom he admired, looked up to, and loved. The playmate and friend of his preschool years who left this world at such a young age. (We gave her name to our only daughter, Abigail Christine).
Then just a few years ago, we relived that pain when we experienced two different miscarriages, lost my precious niece, Olivia at just a few days old, her little brother Ryan before he was born, and my cousin, Danny.
Over the years, I have not been able to see much but the pain of these losses. Knowing and believing with all of my heart that God was (and still is!) in control and that He had (and has) the master plan, I trusted but still had a negative view of death.
Ugly was the only word that I had to describe death. I...well...I hated him! He had caused much pain. And yet, as I look at what scripture has to say about death...it is quite different. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15. Precious...how could death be precious? Here I was confronted with a serious conflict between what I thought to be right and what scripture was plainly stating. Precious was not a word that I would have ever used to describe the death of a saint.
As I pondered this thought and meditated on what it means to be “His saint”, the Lord really changed my view of death.
As a mom, I know what it means to have someone “belong” to you...in a since. My children are...well... mine! I love every one of them with a love that cannot be explained. I remember the anticipation that Peter and I felt as we prepared for each one of those precious little lives. We knew about when they were coming and we gathered things together, communicated with friends and family about their arrival, and anxiously awaited the day that we could hold them in our arms. Finally, the day came. As they left everything that they had ever known, we rejoiced in their arrival. We gathered each one in our arms as they were born and then took them home. And, yes, it was precious!
So, this is the mental picture that the Lord gave me as I was dwelling on what it is like when one of “His saints” dies. It is more of a birth really, than a death. Our Heavenly Father is waiting for that day when He will call home His child. He prepares and waits for that perfect moment...and then finally, they are brought home. One at a time He welcomes them into His arms. At last He has His child and it is precious! “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Precious. Precious. I read that over and over and it means more to me each time. Precious. It truly is precious.
Now with an incredibly different view of death than I have ever had before, I can honestly rejoice as loved ones leave this earth...everything that they have ever known...and our Heavenly Father holds them in His arms and carries them home. Rejoice. Celebrate. It is precious!
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting?” I Corinthians 15:54b-55a
Now, for the first time in my 36 years, I can say this verse with confidence.
Thank you Lord for changing my earthly view of this eternal celebration.