Enjoying the Journey
Family is a very precious thing. I have been blessed with a wonderful heritage that I hope, by God’s grace, to pass on to my children. Last night I stood and preached the funeral of my 54 year old uncle. On the platform with me were two of my spiritual fathers, my Uncle James and my dad.
It is never easy to say goodbye to someone you love, but the Lord gave me wonderful thoughts from His Word. I found help in the New Testament book of Hebrews. About the only verse typically quoted at funerals from Hebrews is Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Yet the book is full of precious truths about life and eternity.
It is in the book of Hebrews that the Lord tells us He tasted death for every man (2:9). Verses 14 and 15 reveal an even greater truth: Jesus defeated the one who has the power of death, and delivered us from the fear of death! Death may bring sadness but it does not have to bring fear.
My uncle Eddie was a funny guy. Through the years he always tried to encourage me. He will be missed. Would you permit me to share the thoughts I gave at his memorial service? They each find their basis in this wonderful book of Hebrews and I trust they will find a place in your heart.
1. He did not die alone.
We all envision sitting by a loved ones bedside, sharing their last moments and reassuring them of our love. A friend asked me this week if my uncle was home alone when he died. I said yes. But the Holy Spirit reminded me that he was not alone. You see, a Christian is never alone!
“For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5
We are not alone in our troubles, in our disappointments, in our sorrow…and we are not alone in death. Jesus was there with my uncle; and when it comes time for us to leave this world, He will be with us.
2. He is not struggling now.
My uncle, like all of us, was an imperfect man living in an imperfect world. He had his share of struggles. All of that is over now.
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” Hebrews 4:9
I love that word “remaineth.” There is always something remaining for the Christian. In fact, for the child of God the best is always yet to come! Our hope is sure. Our future is certain. Our struggles will not last.
3. He is not gone forever.
Nothing in this world lasts forever. Life changes. Seasons come and go.
“For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” Hebrews 13:14
In John Bunyan’s, Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian had to go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. In the words of Bunyan, “Christian must needs go through it, because the way to the Celestial City lay through the midst of it. Now this valley is a very solitary place: the prophet Jeremiah thus describes it: A wilderness, a land of deserts and of pits, a land of drought, and of the Shadow of Death, a land that no man, but a Christian, passeth through.”
My uncle was a Christian. He has passed through. The Celestial City seems a little closer to me. Someday sooner than we think we will all approach this valley, and when we get on the other side we will see our loved ones again in the presence of Jesus. There is a permanent city awaiting us!
Perhaps you have been through the loss of a loved one. If you live long enough, you certainly will. My prayer is that you too may find some help in Hebrews – some help in Him.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with teh feeling of our infirmities: but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16