With Hope and Because of Jesus

"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope..."  1 Thessalonians 4:13

There is a gentle, quiet snowfall today that is blanketing my world in a beautiful, winter white.  With its' entrance comes a reverent stillness that a snowfall often brings, a welcome peace as millions of flurries fill the sky.  To behold the majesty of it, is to remember what once was brown and dead and longing, has gradually been made new and washed clean before our very eyes.  And unlike many projected forecasts, it didn't happen overnight with large fanfare and attention, but instead this winter transformation has been gentle and quiet, even sweet. 

Not only has this long anticipated snowfall been good for the earth today, but it's also been good for my soul... 

As I shared last week, we've been journeying with Dave and Jennie and Dave's family, while they stood watch over Dave's Dad this past week.  In an instant their lives were turned upside down by crisis and the past seven days have been a roller coaster of emotion as we pleaded for a miracle and believed that one way or another, Ron would receive the healing God intended for him.  Last night, that healing was delivered and with his family near, the Lord took Ron's hand and led from this life into the next.  Like a quiet snowfall, he took what was broken, what needed repair and He fulfilled His promises by welcoming him to his eternal reward.  The angels rejoiced as Ron and his Savior must have embraced.  The hope that Ron clung to, the urgency that drove him over this last season of his life, and the author and finisher of his faith finally and quickly became all to him, his reality forever altered.  It is a precious comfort to picture with our limited minds, the paradise that is Heaven and to know that just as quickly and quietly as a winter snow, all the troubles of this life and the broken hallelujahs we lift up with longing hearts can be answered with a breath that begins in this world and ends in the next.  

There is peace because Ron is healed. 
There is hope because Ron is with Jesus. 
 There is assurance because God's Word is truth. 
There is blessing because Ron's life was evidence of the life change that comes from someone who has been rescued from sin and death.   
There is grace in the legacy he leaves, in the priorties he had.
There is love because he loved hard and he loved well.

But even still...

There is hurt because he was taken home so soon, and without warning.
There is sorrow because he was a beloved husband, father, papa, son, brother and friend. 
There is pain because his smile was infectious and his charm undenying.
There is an aching because he was cherished and loved by many. 

So today, while the snow falls and things are made new, the bitter cold that comes with snow is a reminder that this world is not our home.  There is a reason we long for more and a reason death brings heartache.  We hurt with Dave and Jennie, with Wendy, Brooke, Braiden, Anne and John.  I am thankful that we will be able to be with them this week, to stand with them as we celebrate Ron's life.  I'm grateful that we will not forget Ron because he lives on in the lives of his family and in the impact that he made for Christ.  But more than that, I'm filled with hope because I know Ron is with Jesus and his healing is complete.  I will see him again, as will all who have also bowed their knee to King Jesus and who actively place their trust in his finished work at the cross. 

Death is many things to many people.  But because of Jesus and Jesus alone, it is wrapped in hope and life for the believer.  It is a promise kept, an inheritance secured, a foe conquered and an entrance into an Eternity with our Savior.  Death was all those things for Ron and because of that, we grieve not as the world does, but we grieve with hope. 

I think times like this are a gracious reminder from the Lord to make a decision today.  We do not know what the future holds or if our next breath will be granted.  Jesus himself told us,

"I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me." 
 John 14:6

He also told us to,

"Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." 
Matthew 7:13-14

He's even merciful to give us a warning, so that we are sure we belong to Him...

"Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers." 
Matthew 7:21-23

Eternity apart from Him will be nothing short of horrific.  Death is a great time to search your heart and ask questions because while we've all escaped it thus far, one day we won't and God forbid that day comes and it's too late for us.  Ron lived passionately during his final season of life, making sure those he loved and knew were right with Jesus.  While his passion was clearly God given, now more than ever, he would want his death to not be in vain.  He would want us not to waste this opportunity to share the good news about Jesus and the hope we have because of his life, death and resurrection. 

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast...remember that at one time you were seperate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace..."
Ephesians 2:8-14

I would love to ask you to pray for Dave and Jennie and for their family.  This is a bittersweet time and the road ahead is uncertain and filled with great need.  But as they cling to the Lord, we know and they know, that He will be faithful to them.  He knows how they feel, He also grieved the horrific death of His Son, and He knows what they need before they even do because He is God and He is Shepherd of their souls. 

As a big sister, I'm looking foward to being home with them and hopefully providing some much needed sunshine through two little people I know.  I know we'll cry and we'll reminise and we'll be blessed as we hear the stories of how the Lord was already preparing them for this day and how he used Ron to bring glory to His name.  Bittersweet...

With hope and because of Jesus, the sun will come up tomorrow and we'll see Ron again...


Darla said...

Oh, Stephanie. The pain of a life taken so unexpectedly and all too soon is undeniable. Love how deeply you care for your family. I just finished praying for all those involved in the "aftermath" of this sudden loss.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said, Steph. Love to you all.

Ron and Peggy said...

I'll be praying for you all. For peace, comfort and joy in knowing your loved one is waiting for you in heaven.