On Saturday, we said good-bye to a 97 year old saint – the second oldest member of our church family. Then on Sunday afternoon, I attended the funeral of the mother of the wife of our Deacon Chairman.
By themselves, these things weighed heavily enough on my heart as a Pastor. But then, when I got home Sunday evening, my sister called with the sad news that my own aunt had just passed away in a neighboring state. I will now head there to pay my respects for this lost loved one.
To make matters worse, while I am there, I will also visit her brother, and my only surviving uncle, who has himself now had a stroke and is in a nearby hospital in intensive care.
As one might imagine, these events have all combined to focus my thoughts on Heaven. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I find myself sustained through times such as this by the wonderful promise of another world, a far better one, which will follow our lives in this world.
I have been reminded of a story once told by Dr. W. A. Criswell, famed Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. On one occasion, he shared about a conversation that had unfolded on an airplane flight when he found himself seated beside a well-known theologian.
Dr. Criswell related that he desperately wanted to start a conversation with this man; and they did eventually got to talk. Over the course of the ensuing conversation, the man told Dr. Criswell about how he had recently lost his little boy through death.
With a Pastor’s heart, Dr. Criswell listened intently as he told his story. The man said his son had come home from school with a fever; and that everyone had initially thought it was just one of those childhood things. But it turned out to be a very virulent form of meningitis. The doctor said that he could not save the little boy and that he was going to die.
And so this seminary professor, loving his son as he did, sat by the bedside to watch this death vigil.
It was the middle of the day and the little boy, whose strength was going from him and whose vision and brain was getting clouded, said, "Daddy, it's getting dark isn't it?" The professor said to his son, "Yes, son, it is getting dark, very dark."
Of course it was very dark for the little boy. In due course, he said, "Daddy, I guess it's time for me to go to sleep, isn't it?" He said, "Yes, son, it's time for you to go to sleep."
The professor said the little fellow had a way of fixing his pillow just so, and putting his head on his hands when he slept; and that he fixed his pillow like that, and then laid his head on his hands and said, "Good night Daddy. I will see you in the morning."
The little boy then closed his eyes in death and stepped over into heaven.
Dr. Criswell said the professor didn't say anymore after that. He just looked out the window of that airplane for a long, long time.
Finally, he turned back and looked at Dr Criswell, and with scalding tears coming down his cheeks, he said, "Dr. Criswell, I can hardly wait till the morning."
On behalf of all those who have lost loved ones, I simply affirm the promise of God’s Holy Word (in the Old Testament Book of Psalms, chapter 30, verse 5): “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
What a day, glorious day, that will be, when our loved ones we shall see!
STORY SOURCE: Available widely on the internet. See, for instance, http://www.actsweb.org/articles/article.php?i=739&d=2&c=1.
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: http://biblehub.com/psalms/30-5.htm.