Is there Hope?
John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
James Weldon Johnson
Weep not, weep not,
She is not dead;
She's resting in the bosom of Jesus.
Heart-broken husband -- weep no more;
Grief-stricken son -- weep no more;
Left-lonesome daughter --weep no more;
She only just gone home.
Day before yesterday morning,
God was looking down from his great, high heaven,
Looking down on all his children,
And his eye fell of Sister Caroline,
Tossing on her bed of pain.
And God's big heart was touched with pity,
With the everlasting pity.
And God sat back on his throne,
And he commanded that tall, bright angel standing at his right hand:
Call me Death!
And that tall, bright angel cried in a voice
That broke like a clap of thunder:
Call Death! -- Call Death!
And the echo sounded down the streets of heaven
Till it reached away back to that shadowy place,
Where Death waits with his pale, white horses.
And Death heard the summons,
And he leaped on his fastest horse,
Pale as a sheet in the moonlight.
Up the golden street Death galloped,
And the hooves of his horses struck fire from the gold,
But they didn't make no sound.
Up Death rode to the Great White Throne,
And waited for God's command.
And God said: Go down, Death, go down,
Go down to Savannah, Georgia,
Down in Yamacraw,
And find Sister Caroline.
She's borne the burden and heat of the day,
She's labored long in my vineyard,
And she's tired --
She's weary --
Do down, Death, and bring her to me.
And Death didn't say a word,
But he loosed the reins on his pale, white horse,
And he clamped the spurs to his bloodless sides,
And out and down he rode,
Through heaven's pearly gates,
Past suns and moons and stars;
on Death rode,
Leaving the lightning's flash behind;
Straight down he came.
While we were watching round her bed,
She turned her eyes and looked away,
She saw what we couldn't see;
She saw Old Death. She saw Old Death
Coming like a falling star.
But Death didn't frighten Sister Caroline;
He looked to her like a welcome friend.
And she whispered to us: I'm going home,
And she smiled and closed her eyes.
And Death took her up like a baby,
And she lay in his icy arms,
But she didn't feel no chill.
And death began to ride again --
Up beyond the evening star,
Into the glittering light of glory,
On to the Great White Throne.
And there he laid Sister Caroline
On the loving breast of Jesus.
And Jesus took his own hand and wiped away her tears,
And he smoothed the furrows from her face,
And the angels sang a little song,
And Jesus rocked her in his arms,
And kept a-saying: Take your rest,
Take your rest.
Weep not -- weep not,
She is not dead;
She's resting in the bosom of Jesus.
Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
FACING DEATH WITH A FORK
The sound of Martha's voice on the other end of the telephone always brought a smile to Brother Jim's face. She was not only one of the oldest members of the congregation, but one of the most faithful. Aunt Martie, as all of the children called her, just seemed to ooze faith, hope, and love wherever she went. This time, however, there seemed to be an unusual tone to her words.
"Preacher, could you stop by this afternoon? I need to talk with you."
"Of course, I'll be there around three. Is that OK?"
It didn't take long for Jim to discover the reason for what he had only sensed in her voice before. As they sat facing each other in the quiet of her small living room, Martha shared the news that her doctor had just discovered a previously undetected tumour.
"He says I probably have six months to live". Martha's words were naturally serious, yet there was a definite calm about her. "I'm so sorry to .." but before Jim could finish, Martha interrupted. "Don't be. The Lord has been good. I have lived a long life. I'm ready to go. You know that."
"I know," Jim whispered with a reassuring nod.
"But I do want to talk with you about my funeral. I have been thinking about it, and there are things that I know I want."
The two talked quietly for a long time. They talked about Martha's favourite hymns, the passages of Scripture that had meant so much to her through the years, and the many memories they shared from the five years Jim had been with Central Church. When it seemed that they had covered just about everything, Aunt Martie paused, looked up at Jim with a twinkle in her eye, and then added, "One more thing, preacher. When they bury me, I want my old Bible in one hand and a fork in the other".
"A fork?" Jim was sure he had heard everything, but this caught him by surprise. "Why do you want to be buried with a fork?" "I have been thinking about all of the church dinners and banquets that I attended through the years," she explained, "I couldn't begin to count them all. But one thing sticks in my mind, "At those really nice get-togethers, when the meal was almost finished, a server or maybe the hostess would come by to collect the dirty dishes. I can hear the words now.
Sometimes, at the best ones, somebody would lean over my shoulder and whisper, 'You can keep your fork.' And do you know what that meant? Dessert was coming! "It didn't mean a cup of Jell-O or pudding or even a dish of ice cream. You don't need a fork for that. It meant the good stuff, like chocolate cake or cherry pie! When they told me I could keep my fork, I knew the best was yet to come! "That's exactly what I want people to talk about at my funeral. Oh, they can talk about all the good times we had together. That would be nice.
"But when they walk by my casket and look at my pretty blue dress, I want them to turn to one another and say, 'Why the fork'? That's what I want you to say, I want you to tell them, that I kept my fork because the best is yet to come!"
(Alisa Boggs, Internet)
What small joy or precious thing have you tucked back into a corner in time and space.....
Something you plan to enjoy one day just for a "special occasion"?
After your funeral, you loved ones will say, " I wish ______ had used this."
"I wish ________ had taken that vacation or trip."
Stop hiding your dreams away for another day.
Get them out and enjoy.
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