Sleep on This: “…in heaven…” (April 6)

Sleep on This: “…in heaven…” (April 6)

Good evening, friend.

As we enter Holy Week, I pray your soul is well, that you are learning to live in shalom, regardless of your circumstances, and that you are soaking in the teaching of Rabbi Paul who models for us what it means to live in hopeful joy even when—ESPECIALLY when—life circumstances are hard.

Life was especially hard for us this last week. We lost four of our Chapel Hill family: Bill Harter, Herb Posehn, Dale Moe, and Alan Stubblefield. None of these deaths were COVID-related but the families and friends are faced not only with the grief of loss, but also the pain of not being able to gather at this time to mourn well their passing. We will find a way through this, but it is doubly painful and we lament it together.

However, I want to refer us all back, one more time, to Philippians 2:10: “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, IN HEAVEN and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

As I mentioned in my last note, there will come a time when God says, “Enough of this rebellious foolishness; every single one of you in creation will now bow down and acknowledge my Son for who he is…for who he has always been: Lord of all!” Even those “under the earth” (an apparent reference to hell)…even there, the rebellious knee will bow… the rebellious tongue confess. They will have no choice.

But not ALL worship will be compelled! Did you notice? Every knee and tongue “in heaven” also will declare Jesus as Lord. Not out of compulsion but out of eternal gratitude! Because they were among those who believed in Jesus in this life…and were called to join him in the next.

At the end of every one of these evening notes, I offer a prayer, often including the words, “…as I lay me down…” a reference to a children’s bedtime prayer many of us learned:   

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

That may seem an odd prayer for a child; why even mention the possibility of death? And it may seem odd for me to mention it in an evening reflection intended to offer peace at day’s end. But truly, the greatest peace we have to offer is the truth that, for EVERY Christian, Death is a toothless tiger! All growl, no bite!

Bill, Herb, Dale, and Alan all knew and loved Jesus. And now, every one of them has been received into his eternal embrace. Each of them has joined their voices to those of the heavenly throng who worship Jesus as the Lord and giver of eternal life.

The greatest comfort I can provide in the midst of a pandemic is the reminder that Death never, never, never, NEVER has the last word for those of us who belong to Jesus!

Thank you, Lord, that nothing can separate me from your love; that I can rest easy knowing that, whether on this side of glory or the other, I will add my voice to the eternal praise of the Lord who died and rose to save us. When I fear death, remind me that you conquered death—for yourself—and then for me, too. Hallelujah—and amen!

Pastor Mark