– John R. Rice
The old hymn “When the Roll is Called up Yonder” might seem old-fashioned, but the idea isn’t. Paul wrote, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). To be honest with you, the older I get, the more I desire “to be present with the Lord” and “to be absent from the body.” I’m over 60 and don’t know how much time I have left here on earth, so I want to pour out all that I have into the work of the kingdom for His glory like a drink offering and prepare for that Great Day of His appearing.
Death Is a Beginning
For those who have repented and trusted in Christ, death is not final, nor is it the end. It is really just the beginning of eternity but the death of all sorrow, pain, suffering, and tears, and even “death shall be no more” (Rev. 21:4). I love these facts. At a funeral not long ago, I told those in attendance that it’s not burial ground here because they are not really here; they are now with Christ. We might think it’s goodbye, but it’s actually “see you later.”
The Worst Thing That Could Happen
Our former pastor and my mentor almost slipped into eternity but came back after his heart stopped for a while. God was not done with him yet, and as long as you’re drawing a breath, He’s not done with you either. Our church prayed for him, but we prayed for God’s will above what we think because what’s the worst thing that could happen? Some beloved saint who has battled all their life with health issues due to serving in the military and now deeply desires to be with the Lord would say, “What’s the worst thing that could happen? I’d die but in the next instant be with Christ and experience unending joy, and all my pain and suffering are now behind me forever.” Do you agree? Paul put it well in Romans 8:18 where he wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Paul gives us the right perspective, writing, “… the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:21-23). So we might say good night here, but we’ll surely say good morning up there.