Thursday, April 28, 2011

Death, destruction - and devotion.

Almost sixteen years ago I stood over the open coffin of my father, holding my five-year-old granddaughter's hand, looking into the still, waxy face of the man we both loved dearly - and God dropped a thought into my mind that still resonates within me. I spoke it aloud. "He's more alive now than he ever was on this earth."

That truth has grown deep roots in my soul, and given another nuance of meaning to the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:20: "But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ...". I don't belong here; this isn't my true home. It's a mission field, a training ground, a battlefield - and yes, a temporary home where there is much joy, even in the midst of its pains and evils. But the reality for which I long is yet to come.

The reality of an afterlife came yesterday to literally hundreds of people - and most of them met it unexpectedly. One moment they were on this earth. In the blink of an eye they were in eternity - swept there by tornadic winds, or buried under tons of rubble, or crushed in an impact with an oncoming vehicle. To say that's a sobering thought is to speak almost inanely - how could it be anything but sobering, to think of instaneous death? No time to prepare, to say goodbye, to compose a prayer - one moment you're here, the next you're not. Where are you?

I don't personally know anyone who died yesterday. But I know I'll meet one of them someday - and when I do, I'm going to hug his neck and thank him for the impact he made on my life through his passionate, pleading words and his devotion to Jesus Christ.

David Wilkerson died unexpectedly and instantly yesterday when his car collided head-on with a tractor-trailer in East Texas. He didn't know he was going to die - but I can guarantee he was ready. He's been ready for decades. I'm not going to take time or space to introduce him to you - if you don't recognize the name, look him up. He wrote a book in 1985 (he wrote many) called "Set The Trumpet to Thy Mouth." I believe it was written in fire and in tears - which is how I read it - in tears. God used it to wake me up, to shake me up - and I literally have never been the same.

I didn't always agree with all his theology - but I didn't have to. He preached "Jesus Christ and Him crucified," and he contended for the faith - urging utter surrender and devotion to Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and pleading for repentance, holiness, and a life of love and service.

He's home now. And yes - he's more alive now than he ever was down here.

And all those others who perished yesterday? Some of them are with David and with their Lord. Many of them are not - and never will be. "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." (Hebrews 9:27,28)

I hope to be eagerly waiting for Christ when He returns - because I believe that will be soon. But if not? If death claims me instantly, or after a long, debilitating illness - however it may come - rest assured: I'll be more alive then than I ever was on this earth. And that truth is to the praise of the glory of Jesus Christ my Lord. I pray it's your truth, too.

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