Sunday, December 11, 2011

Precious in the sight of the Lord...

Precious in the sight of the Lord

is the death of his saints.
Lord, truly I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservantc;
you have freed me from my chains
Psalm 116: 15


My friend's grandmother died this morning, early.

She was an amazing woman, and her family... her legacy is tremendous. Her son and his wife are incredibly influential for the kingdom, and the same can be said for her grandchildren. Her granddaughter is one of my best and favorite porch-mates. We could talk for hours and often do.

She got that from her grandmother.

Anyone who went to see Miss Francis knew that they'd better go over there with time to stay a while. And staying there was a pleasure. Funny, kind, and incredibly honest, she could talk about anything. Her nails and hair were always perfectly done, even when she didn't feel well. She was a great southern lady. There aren't too many like her left in this world. I hate to see her go, but...

My heart is heavy for my friends' loss, but I have been thinking about heaven since I got the message early, early this morning.

All I can think about today is glory.

She's been with Jesus for twelve hours.

She has been absent from the body that served Him, hoped for Him, looked for Him, raised her family to love Him, counted on Him, and longed for Him, for twelve hours.

She's been present with the answer to all her desires for twelve hours.

Twelve eternities.

Glory.

Can you imagine?

Oh GOD, how we long for You. How we long to know, not dimly, but to know You because our hands have touched Your face. To hold You, Lord. To see the forgiveness that we walk in daily, scraped intoYour hands and feet. To know to know to know... to fill our eyes with Your face, to breathe in Your fragrance, to hear Your voice-- its tone, its quality, its depth...

Miss Francis's faith is now sight.

Glory.

I wonder what He said when she burst through those gates. I wonder if she has stopped laughing yet. Oh God, she held all those relatives and Him and Him and Him and Him...

God, You are who we long for, and I praise You for the saints who have gone, are going, and will continue to go ahead of us. Thank You for the great prize that You are. I close my eyes and try to picture it and I find myself just shaking my head. I cannot imagine.

We need not fear death. Friends, rejoice!

We have a hope! Death is not the end! This life? Thinking that this life is all there is is like just reading the prologue of a great novel and then putting it down, and then wondering why you don't feel satisfied. It's like going to hear a great symphony but leaving after they've just finished tuning up. It's like stopping at the bread before a great feast. It's like standing in awe at the front hall of a great castle and just turning to go.

This is not all there is.

This life is prologue. It's the beginning. It's the appetizer. It's the warm-up.

These are the things I was thinking about this morning during worship.

We told Him that we loved Him and that His name was sweet, and I threw my head back and the brightness of the stage lights burned my eyelids and I thought, How much hotter is the light of the Lord on Francis's face?

We told Him that He was faithful and that He was with us in all the dark times and the good times, and that He gives and takes away but is always faithful, and I imagined the strength of the passionate embrace He was holding her in...

We told Him that we longed to hear His voice, and I sang loud and tried to keep my voice from wavering from the intense emotion I was feeling-- can you imagine the sound of His voice as He told Francis "Well done, good and faithful servant"? Oh Mrs. Cheely, is it like the sound of many rushing waters?

Sigh.

People sometimes get worried when we start talking like this-- this longing for eternity... but... don't you wonder? Don't you long for Him? My heart cries out for Him-- to sing to Him-- to see His face as I sing words that right now I can only close my eyes to sing-- my songs are only for Him, only for His face-- and this morning, Francis sang all her songs for Him, I bet. It's only been a little while-- I bet she's still singing. I bet she's still noticing things about Him that our finite minds have never even yet wondered about.

Heaven holds all the answers to our questions-- it's where our God waits for us-- and I rejoice with my elder sister as she dances before His throne, and while I am loving life on earth, I can't help but feel a tug of jealousy that she's standing in His presence right. this. second. There is more to this life than this life. This is not all there is. This is prologue. It's not over.

Ever.

Bless His name.

His love endures forever, and He invites us into it with Him.


YES, Lord!


Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

            His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
            His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
            His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
            His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
            His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
            His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
            His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
            His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
            His love endures forever...
Psalm 136