And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!” Revelation 14:13 (NLT)
This will be a weekend for memories. A very good friend of my son, James, is getting married to a wonderful young woman. And his wedding venue is a lakeside church camp that they spent many memorable days. This friend stood by him in some of his most difficult days, loving him even when he was bald!
I’m going to be very transparent today as I believe there are many who may read this that struggle with finding the truth of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and yet experience the sharp knife of grief when someone they love leaves them behind to respond to God’s call that it’s now time to go home.
I have no doubt that my son is home in the truest sense of the word. Jesus tells me that He personally prepared the place. It’s wonderful to have the best contractor preparing my place of residence where I will live forever. He knows my heart and so He knows all those little secrets that give me the greatest joy. I like a home with lots of light. I like openness. I like the smell of fresh linens and light-scented flowers. I like a gentle breeze. He knows all that and more.
I do not know what James is doing in heaven but I suspect it has something to do with music and action or what we would think of as athletics because he loved those two things. His idea of the perfect worship service involved about ten minutes of teaching and the rest in music. His idea of evangelism was a softball or baseball game that would hook people into coming back on Sunday morning. So whatever we do in heaven I believe will involve the God-given talents we have – ramped up a few notches!
Now since I have no doubt that James is enjoying this perfect place where there isn’t any more disease or pain or weakness, I know he also wouldn’t come back here if the offer was given. ‘Happy’ doesn’t cover how he feels about where he is.
So what I feel: loss, sadness, isn’t about James. It is about me. I am missing what once was. I am missing a dream that never came true. There was a different dream that came to be.
But while I will experience some sadness this weekend, I will also get to stand in witness to some extraordinary joy. And I will “see” James in this weekend because he would have had a great time hassling and celebrating with his friend. And that will be the new memory that I will make as I watch James walk on in his friend.
As disciples of Jesus we make a “footprint” in the life of every person we meet. It isn’t a choice; it’s a fact. For good or bad, we leave a mark on others. A disciple is one who represents their Teacher to others. Paul says we are “ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20) speaking for and working in the lives of others. What mark did James leave on his friend? I don’t know, we would have to ask, but he did leave one.
If you are homesick for heaven and someone who is already there, take sometimes to remember. Remember conversations. Remember things you did together. And thank our LORD for the marks that they left and carry them forward.
Memories written by Bill Strange and Scott Davis, sung by Elvis Presley