With two daughters living in different parts of the country I try to plan at least one trip a year to visit each of them. Because of distance and my joy of driving NOT; I “get to” (as opposed to a negative attitude of “have to”) fly to Nashville or Dallas, respectively.
During my plans and preparations, I have never had one friend or loved one express sadness or regret about my going on these trips. They have even shared in my joy and excitement! I would buy my plane ticket way in advance and make plans for what to pack and things we might do when I got there.
Where was the last trip you took? Did you make plans and preparations ahead of time? Why did you plan such a trip? Probably because you had a very good idea of what to expect and the joy you would experience. Shouldn’t our plans for our very last trip hold those same expectations? Isn’t it sad that we all know that someday we are going to die but we live as though we won’t, robbing ourselves of the joyful expectations of all eternity?
Planning trips are such fun, although getting there can sometimes be a bit stressful! I have to say the part of the trip I could do without when flying is turbulence! I envision the whole plane rattling apart and think to myself, “This thing could crash, and I could die.” But please note: *”I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens”! But alas, I must! Dying becomes the last greatest testimony I will ever leave my family and loved ones.
It might sound warped, but lately I keep having thoughts that if I died suddenly, say in a plane crash, car accident or heart attack I wouldn’t be here to comfort my loved ones to tell them, “It’s ok! If I end up with a long term illness and it’s looking quite probable that I’m going to die I would want to talk about it with them; not about my fear, but my joy and expectation of seeing Jesus!
Why is it that the very obvious “elephant in the room” part of living ie dying, is the hardest thing to talk about and is avoided at all cost? Could it be that the least someone is prepared to die the harder it is to talk about? My son in law and I talk about this topic quite often and both of us consider dying as something to look forward to, as the apostle Paul wrote….For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21. Our faith assures us of the joy of being with Christ upon our last breath. I know they know, but I just want to remind my loved ones right now that if I should die before I wake please find comfort in knowing the joy I am experiencing at that very moment as dying is only my vehicle to my next destination-the arms of God my Savior! Don’t plan a wake or memorial, plan a party to celebrate my arrival to my mansion prepared especially for me (John 14:2) where, I’m hoping, that if we have addresses on our mansions my heavenly address will be 444 and the Lord will walk with me along streets of gold near a crystal sea. (Revelations 21:21; 4:6)
Many of us, whether in church or at the occasional funeral, have probably sung the song **”In the Garden.” Have you ever truly listened to the words of that song? Do you believe them? Does your life reflect this special relationship? Will your death?
And He walks with me and He talks with me And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there None other has ever known
This chorus conveys an amazing visit with the Lord. Dying allows me an eternity in that garden with my greatest love!
I know that dying seems so final for those left on this side, but if we could develop an itinerary for that trip ahead of time (now, today) it could be a time of rejoicing and not so much grief. Jesus promised in God’s Word John 11:25-26 when speaking to Martha after her brother died, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” He asked Martha, “Do you believe this?” Now he asks you! Do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe that He is the Son of God, that He takes away all your sins (as none of us can ever be “good enough” and the Father cannot be in the presence of sin) and will take you to heaven upon your last breath? Let me offer a comparison; when I visit my daughters, I have to buy a boarding pass or I’m not going anywhere. Jesus is our boarding pass. You are NOT going into the Father’s presence without it!
Get your heavenly boarding pass! Place your faith in Jesus Christ and develop a relationship with Him now! Talk about your love for the Lord and being with Him in eternity. Live a life for Him here so you’re already in a beautiful relationship upon arrival there. The only thing missing would be a departure date; everything else would provide a peace knowing that you are in good hands and have an amazing adventure ahead that will last through all eternity.
*Woody Allen quote
** In the Garden – Charles A. Miles 1913 Public Domain
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