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Monday, May 23, 2011

Reminded of the Word of Truth

Treasured friend,

This evening I was rereading my April entry – and feeling sheepish as I read. I’ve begun dozens of messages to you, but haven’t gotten far before I was interrupted, needed elsewhere, or otherwise distracted. So, my treasured friend, I offer you my sincere apology.

By way of explanation—but by no means excuse—since I’ve last written to you, our family has sat by several sets of friends, fellow caregivers who have been through the ultimate challenge: watching loved ones decline, then enter the care of hospice, all the while knowing where the path is leading … that the journey of their beloved charges would carry them into eternity with their Lord.

We’ve seen faithful saints who’ve lived a lifetime in God’s service finish the course well—and collect their prize of eternal life. We’ve listened to words of comfort from preachers in services of tearful celebrations, and we’ve come to realize anew the fact that words, even beautiful words out of the Psalms or out of Paul’s writings to the early church, simply can’t express the range of emotions in these most poignant of all human moments.

And yet words are what we have to offer—as we come up against this frustrating reminder of the limitations of our humanity. Words, gentle hugs, tearful eyes, the squeeze of a hand. We’re here. We care. We’re praying. We won’t forget to hold you up in the days ahead.

That’s what we have in our comfort arsenals. That, and the truth of the Word made flesh, Who made His dwelling place among us—Who lived to demonstrate the Creator’s understanding of our pain at the curse of death—and who died to make a way for us to live. The paradox of faith in Christ. It takes dying to live.

When our hearts are torn by death’s separation—His presence seems just a little closer, a little more tangible. And we become a lot more desperate to feel it for ourselves. In those moments we long to be reminded of His promises, the words from His very own mouth—spoken to prepare His loved ones’ hearts for the painful separation from Him that they were about to experience. They then, like we now, didn’t understand what was about to take place, couldn’t see the bigger picture, could only be gripped by panicked and fearful emotions at the prospect of their Lord going to a place they couldn’t immediately follow. And yet, He offered these beautiful words …  

Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.” “Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:1-6, HCSB).

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of using these words, and others spoken by Christ and expounded on by Paul, to reassure an old friend’s troubled questions about eternity (raised in her heart by the misguided and ill-spoken words of a charlatan Armageddon predictor).

Here is what I told her (and I'm telling you) that I know to be true—because Christ said so--check out His Word for yourself to see whether what I'm telling you is true. Here, then, is what I know: We know the way—the only way—to the place where we will be with Christ … and with our loved ones who have died in Him. The way is so simple that so many of us complicate things, so that others (surely not we ourselves) miss it. The way is clear and direct because Christ made it so.

He faced the recesses of hell Himself. That day on Calvary’s cross He entered death’s domain, He tied up the guardians of hell, and He conquered them once and for all—for every one of us who dares to believe—to ask Him to buy us back from slavery to sin—to apply His life-blood to our sin accounts. This is what He asks us to believe and receive—“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. … For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:9, 13; HCSB).

Perhaps words are enough to offer after all. Words from the mouth of our Lord, offering comfort and a compassionate challenge—your heart must not be troubled. … I will receive you to Myself. And the words of our own mouths: Lord Jesus, I choose to believe You and receive the free gift of salvation that You paid for on my behalf--with Your blood.

With those words, eternal companionship with our loving Lord opens up for each of us. So that at death's moment, we'll be more alive in Him than we ever were on this earth.That’s what happened to our friends this week. And when it’s our time—well, I can’t speak for you, but as for me, that’s the promise that will carry me through the end of this life and into the promised joys of eternity with Christ. That’s what I’m living for … and what I’ve staked it all to believe.

I pray you have this same assurance in your own heart—for your eternity, and for the eternity of the one you care for today.

Blessings and prayers,
Julie

© 2011, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com