Two requests, neither of which is really uncommon have been made of me in recent weeks. The first one was when one of our teen girls came to me and asked if I would marry her. Of course I told her that I could not because I am very happily married! I then told her that it would be a privilege to perform her wedding ceremony. All that she has to do now is find the right man to join her on her wedding day! The other request came from one of our “senior” members who requested that I preach his funeral. He is a wonderful man of God and it will be an honor to fulfill this request.
In our culture, we view marriage as a new beginning. We consider this happy time when a man and woman come together to build a new home, a new life, one of the most joyful times in life. We are right to look at marriage in this way.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, in our culture we view death as the end of a life. We talk about “end of life” issues and “the last days” of an individual’s life. We often consider it to be an extremely sorrowful time.
It seems as though I’ve been attending more funerals than normal lately. The preachers who are reading this will understand this. The longer you work with a particular church, the more you get to know the members and their extended family, the more you are called on to help with funerals.
I recently heard a preacher say something that I had heard years ago, but had forgotten. I believe his statement is Biblically correct. He said of the departed love one, “He has left the land of the dying to go to the land of the living!” What a wonderful thought.
As we grow older, our bodies begin to wear out (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:4, see also Ecclesiastes 12:1-8). However, as you know, we don’t just learn this from Scripture, we learn it from the personal experiences of our lives.
Unless Jesus returns first, every living person will die (Hebrews 9:27). This present world really is the land of the dying!
However, when this body decays and returns to the dust of the ground, the “spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). In Heaven, our spirit, the person who we really are, will dwell forever in the land of the living!
In the land of the living, “...there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain: the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
In the land of the living we will join with the saints from all times to praise our Savior forever (Revelation 4:8-11). In the land of the living we will be, “...no need of the sun or of the moon to shine...for the glory of God has illumined...and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:23).
In the land of the dying we are strangers and pilgrims we are searching for a better country, a heavenly one (Hebrews 11:13-16), a land where we will live forever. It is the land of the living where our Savior went to prepare a home for us (John 14:1-3).
Dear Father in Heaven, we give You thanks for the promise that and hope that we have for a better place. We long to spend an eternity in Your presence, in the presence of our Savior, and the presence of those who have gone on before us. Dear God, help us to live in the land of the dying in such a way that someday we will be called to be forever in the land of the living. In the Name of Jesus we pray, Amen.