More Than an Exit
Death has been on my mind of late. As I write, it is just days after Ligonier Ministries lost a friend and board member, Robert Fraley, in the plane crash that took golfer Payne Stewart. And in the last three months, my wife, Denise, and I have lost two children to miscarriage. ¶ But resurrection is likewise on my mind. A few days ago, I received the best news I’ve heard in a long time. A dear friend who had ceased to be a friend, who had been judged as outside the kingdom, who had been excommunicated by her session, has repented. I feel like Mary and Martha must have felt when their beloved brother exited the grave.
Death ought to do that to us, to move our minds to think on the future. Yes, there is a time for mourning, but not as the pagans who have no hope. Death without a view to the coming resurrection is, in a word, deadly. But death in our context, remembering and looking to resurrection, is gain. There is also a time for dancing.
Our problem is that we miss both. We find ourselves caught up in the bustle of the world, that frenzied pursuit of distraction that helps us forget that the grave awaits. Rather than rejoice, we’d just prefer not to think about it.
This simply evidences our unbelief. I’ve instructed my wife as to the nature of my wake—I want it to be a party. I’ve been coram Deo. I’ve tasted the presence of God. I’ve knelt at the Lord’s Table and quaked in His presence. And I want more. My appetite for life leads me to an appetite for death. And when my King calls me from the battle, I’ll be ready to go. It’s not just that the sting is gone. It’s not just that the grave holds no victory. Jesus didn’t come to secure a mere tie with the forces of darkness. He routed them, so much so that their greatest weapon, death, becomes our great reward.
Paul’s struggle between the twin goods of serving Him on this earth and going to our—that is, His—reward is not some bizarre manifestation of super-godliness. Instead, we are called to cultivate the same attitude. We are to long to go home, to return to that country wherein we have our citizenship. If we don’t have that longing, I fear we might be just a little too much at home in this world we’re just passing through. But as one wise girl once told us, there’s no place like home.