On Sunday morning about 3:00 am, I lost my Dad. It was a blessing and answered prayer that God take him quickly. He was the man I loved first, and he always taught me how to love, how to fear our Lord, and he took his role to parent my brother and I biblically. We lost him just 2 years and 41 days after we lost my Mom.
Time seems very important to me now. It’s time on this earth and what do we do with it? Over the last 5 years especially, I spent a lot of time with both my parents, and after Mom passed with Dad. Both of my parents are now with our Lord – they are not experiencing pain, but only joy. I’m so grateful for that. And I am so grateful that they both raised us in the church. Not only did they take us to church, but they were both INVOLVED. They both worked with the youth group and “Mothered” and “Fathered” many young souls. They loved, they laughed, they disciplined – they were there and available. I want to share what an old friend wrote on my Facebook page, “Henry Gretschel was a blessing to my life in many ways. He was a favorite Sunday School teacher in the youth department at Willow Drive Baptist. He and Joyce provided a safe place in their home for teenagers to talk and have fun. Hope we all follow their example of pointing the next generation to faith in Jesus Christ. Thank you Sheri and Mike for sharing your parents with us.”
As an adult I’ve met many people over the years that have made me realize how blessed my brother and I were. The life we lived was just what was normal to us. But many people weren’t raised as we were. My parents were certainly not perfect (and neither am I), but they were both a gift to us from God. And our Lord gifted us with parents who were committed to living out God’s promises in His Kingdom and sharing that with their children, family and friends. In remembering, it is both a time to grieve and to rejoice.
Why is it so difficult for us to say goodbye? I think it is because maybe we don’t view death as God does. We see death as an end, and it saddens us to lose the ones we love. But from our Heavenly Father’s view, death is only the beginning – the beginning of eternal life with Him in paradise where we were created to be. Heaven is a place we should be excited about!
To us, death is tragic and many of us fear it. But perhaps to God, dying is the reward for a life well-lived, rather than something to be dreaded. The earthly death of a Christian merely serves to usher us into what God has created for all believers – an eternal home with Him where we will no longer suffer the injustices, trials, illnesses, and disappointments of this world.
The apostle Paul seemed to understand this. In his letter to the Philippians, he expressed his anxious anticipation of eternal life with Christ. He felt torn between wanting to serve the Lord on earth, and wanting to go to Heaven. He describes life with Christ as the more pleasing option. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Philippians 1:21-24)
Like Paul, if we are still here, it means God still has work for us to do. But our time on earth was never meant to be permanent. We are to work for the Lord while we are here, telling others about Him so that they too can have eternal life. But we are also to remember the glorious inheritance that God has waiting for us. When we live our lives this way, keeping Heaven and God’s eternal purposes for us in mind, we see death from a new perspective.
That doesn’t mean that we won’t be sad when we lose loved ones. But we can praise God that, even in our grief, we do not mourn as those who have no hope. As Christians, we have been promised that the end of our lives on earth is not really the end. The day is coming when death and sadness will be no more.
Thank You, Lord, for the promise of an eternity with you. On this journey through life, help me keep my eyes toward Heaven.
Source: Heaven on My Mind