By Diane Kushniryk
The summer of 2009 has been a summer of goodbyes, the most significant being the death of my younger brother on July 31. As I sat among sobbing family members at his funeral, I was awestruck by my own feelings of profound peace. It wasn’t that I wasn’t grieving but that the grief was tempered by my assurance that God knew what He was doing and that I knew not to look for the “living amongst the dead.” My brother was not “gone” he was simply “away.”
As at most funerals I heard a lot of espousal of heaven among the mourners but I wonder how many actually believe in the reality of it, and what is more consequential, how many truly have the assurance of it? My brother did, in those last pain-wracked days as his body failed him, he drew ever closer to the One who offers that assurance. “Jesus said…, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’“ (John 11:25-26).
Make no mistake we are eternal beings, for God “has planted eternity in the human heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) We were created by an eternal God to be His companions forever and that plan has never changed and He has gone to great lengths to insure that. (For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16) This is His Will and yet He has allowed it to be frustrated, for a time, because He chooses to give freedom of choice to mankind. He gives the choice because to remove the choice is to remove the love and God does not want religion, He wants relationship. “…His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:5)
Of course the flip side of the eternity coin is not as pleasant as the one we advocate at the physical death of someone, but the truth is that it is just as a much a reality as eternal life (“and they will go away into eternal punishment but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Matthew 25:26) For those who do not believe in “the Way, the Truth and Life” as the only road to the Father (John 14:6) the future holds only a final and irreversible separation from God. (Revelation 20:6)
The length of time we have in this physical life is not a sure thing, “we know our birth date but we don’t know our death date” and that’s why it is so vital that we not think or believe we are going to heaven but that we know it. If you have not secured your name in the Book of Life then you are playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded pistol.
Remember I spoke about choice, well this is a choice, it is not a given and “we should not put off until tomorrow what we can do today,” there may not be time for it. My brother was 47. Brooke Fraser sings in her song ‘Hosanna,’ “As I walk from earth into eternity” and we are walking that walk but the question is which eternity?
Dianne Kushniryk is a freelance Christian writer who has had her work published in local newspapers. She is a long time resident of Rimbey and would be pleased to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.