Jump Start # 2765
Luke 16:23 “And in Hades he lifts up his eyes, being in torments, and sees Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
(This was written on Sunday January 17th).
My sweet dad passed away this morning. The tears flow even though this is what I wanted. His long journey here has ended. A World War II vet, a man who never stopped learning and being a delight to others. His smile was endless and his faith was strong. My siblings gather in the morning to plan his funeral, which I will preach. We were so blessed. One of my final words to him, as I kissed his head was to say, “thank you.”
My dad passed through that door of death on a Sunday. He would have liked that. If I was given the choice, that would be my day of the week as well. Sundays are always the best day of the week. And, as I was driving to the church building this morning, my mind was filled with thoughts about dad, what I was to preach this morning, I thought of this passage. Dad was a blessing. He was an example of faith and love.
Our passage is taken from the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man died. He lifted up his eyes and saw things. He saw things that he had never seen before. For instance:
- He saw that there was nothing he could do about his situation. All the money, all the land, all the power he once had, were worthless on the other side.
- He saw that his choices in life put him where he was. It wasn’t God that sent him there, it was his choices. He chose to live a life without regard to anything spiritual. In death, he saw the consequences that come with such a life.
- He saw that there was nothing he could do for others on earth. No messages would be sent. No warnings given. No secret signs. His family had what he had, the word of God. If they followed that, they would not be where he was. But he knew. He knew them. He knew that they wouldn’t pay attention as he had not paid attention.
- He saw that there was no going back and having a do over. He wasn’t allowed another chance to get things right. That wasn’t going to happen.
But, on this Sunday morning, I thought about what my sweet dad saw when he opened his eyes on the other side. Just what does a righteous person see when they cross through the doorway of death? What’s on the other side for the righteous?
Here are my thoughts:
- First, there is unbelievable comfort. That’s what Lazarus found. Feeling good, feeling well. I think this is much more than the absence of pain, suffering, and being bothered with pills, shots and procedures. There is an inner comfort. One has reached his journey. This is where God wants him to be. The race is over. The battle has been won. Safely home, never to be tempted again. Safely home, never to be troubled again. Safely home. No other place to be. My dad was one who smiled. Picture after picture shows him smiling. A happy man. And, I expect that journey that ended brought the biggest of smiles to his face.
- Second, there must be some connection with the people there. I don’t know how all of this works, and I do not worry about it. God will take care of it. The other side is made up of the people of faith. People from all over the globe. People that my dad never met. More than that, people from all times. I like to think he is with my mom and his parents once again. All of those wonderful heroes in the Bible would be on the other side. I like to think that this morning, as he first opened his eyes, and saw that great host of Heaven, that he said, “Boy, I wish Roger was here to see all of this.” And, I do too.
- Third, I like to think that my dad opened his eyes and saw beauty like he has never seen. Greater than sunsets, mountains and oceans, which he loved, are the joys and splendor on the other side. There is nothing to ruin things. No pollution, graffiti, rudeness or unpleasant sights. Pure, like the Lord. Wonderful, like Jesus. I think he would have seen things that he has never seen before.
- Fourth, I believe he saw the Lord. The Lord who he has loved, followed, trusted, prayed to and praised for nine decades of his life. The Lord who has blessed him so often. The Lord who forgave him. The Lord who has been there for him. More than anything else, when he opened his eyes this morning, he saw Jesus.
I’m saddened that he won’t be around for me to talk to. I’ve enjoyed my drive home from the office and talking to him on the phone. There will be things that I want to show him, but I won’t be able to. The passing of a parent, especially the last one, closes a huge chapter in one’s life. I have always had a dad around. And around he has always been. Always. Our love and our relationship runs rich and deep. The last thing I said to him, as I kissed his head, was, “I’ll meet you on the other side.”
The more deposits we have in Heaven, the less this ole’ earth appeals to us. Ballgames, politics, TV—just doesn’t seem the same any more. He lifted his eyes…
Someday, it will be our turn. Make sure you’re on the Lord’s side. What things await us…