(1 Thessalonians 5:10 NIV)
Are you? Afraid of death, I mean. I am. Well, in some ways. But when I envision waking up looking Jesus in the face for the very first time, well, fear just kind of melts away.
There are a lot of references to death all throughout the Bible. They are meant to be reassuring to the believer, to give us peace, to give us stronger faith, to give us that hope that we know to be more than that. It is fact.
Most of us pray that Jesus will return for His bride before we physically leave this earth. I would imagine that type of prayer has been prayed for centuries and centuries. Yet all before us have gone through the physical death experience, save two that we know of, Enoch and Elijah. Their situation is not the norm, however.
We don't want to suffer as we leave this earth. Yet many do. We experience death through accidents, illnesses, and yes, even physical violence. Being a Christian, no matter how strong our faith, we are still subject to these things. Yet because we have Christ in us, He will make our way easier, He will carry us through, and we will have peace as we cross over Jordan to meet Him on it's golden shores. (Pardon the paraphrasing!)
Many of us will live long, healthy lives, and simply 'age out'. Yes, we will lay down to sleep and awake in the presence of our God, our Saviour. This is how most of us would like to leave. This is the easier, less difficult way, next to being raptured. The rapture is the finest way, at least in our limited vision, because we will be caught up in the air with other believers, and suddenly be in the presence of Jesus Himself. What a blessing!
But don't forget, dear one, that when the Rapture occurs, those who have gone to the grave already will also be raised, and all who are saved will be together in the air. The graves will open, bodies restored with the already 'Heavened' spirits, and we will be together in eternity.
Whatever the method that we experience upon leaving this life, Jesus has promised us a safe passage. We will reach our destination, which is Heaven. We will, once that last breath is taken, travel faster than the speed of light, to be greeted by those who have gone before, including our loved ones. We will see grace at work in it's finest hour, our very own Homecoming.
Grace is extended to us always. For the here and now, and for that time when we may face death in a not so desirable way. The apostle Paul knew contentment and joy in his many trials because of his devotion to Christ. We, too, are given the same measure of what he received, if we simply ask for it, and trust God. He will never leave us or forsake us, even when we can no longer function physically in His service. Our profession of faith and trust, as declared and displayed right up to that last moment, will be our work for the Kingdom during that time. As it should be every day of our lives.
Death is nothing to fear. We will not experience it until God says it is time, and it will happen in a manner that will bring Him glory, in that good things on earth will come of it. We will leave a legacy of some type because we lived and died, and because grace was present in our lives, grace we have received through Jesus Christ, and grace we shared with others because of what He did for us. He died an earthly death, a much more traumatic one that we can imagine. But He rose again, victorious, glorious, and full of the love He so lavishly extends to each one of us.