Jump Start # 2793
James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father”
In worship the other day we were singing, “For the beauty of the earth.” And, you know how things like this happen. You’ve sung a song hundreds of times before, but on this day, there is a line or an expression that stands out. You’ve just never thought about it before. That was true of me as we sang this wonderful hymn. The second verse begins, “For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child, friends on earth, and friends above…” And, right there it is. FRIENDS ABOVE. It’s not the friends here. It’s not the friends around us. It’s not the friends on earth. No, the line takes us to our “FRIENDS ABOVE.”
Have you thought about that? We tend to allow the tears of death to close the book on our friendships. A friend passes on, and we must remain here. They are there, and we are here. They are in the arms of Jesus and we must live on down here. Friends above.
Now, several thoughts here:
First, inherit within those words is the concept that we will recognize and know each other in Heaven. That’s asked over and over. That’s something people wonder about. It’s something that troubles some. And, there are some reasons for these concerns. If we know each other in Heaven, won’t I realize who is not there? How can there be no tears in Heaven if someone in my family is missing? How can Heaven be joyous if I’m torn up because a parent or a child didn’t make it? Don’t fret over those thoughts. God will take care of you. I don’t know how, but neither do I understand how God could pick up some dirt and fashion a man. I don’t understand how God knew how this planet had to tilt at just the right degree and be just the right distance from the sun. Allow God to take care of the details. If He promises that He’ll wipe away every tear, then we must believe Him.
The rich man seemed to recognize Lazarus on the other side. Peter recognized Elijah and Moses at the transfiguration. I doubt that they were wearing name tags. Friends on the other side. Friends above.
Second, and likely should have been before the first point, is that we live on after death. It’s hard to have friends above, if there is no “above” and if they are not there. Death is merely the bridge we must cross to get us from this side to the other side. I like to think of it as a door. Just a door. To go from one room to the next, you pass through a door. We can get so fixated about the door that we fail to think about the next room we are heading to.
Third, inherit in these words is the thought that some of our friends made it. Home safe and sound. Home where they belong. Home with God. We know people right now who made it. I remember an old guy telling a funeral director that he knew more people on the other side than he did here on earth. Something about that as a person ages. Heaven is not just righteous people. Heaven is more than the redeemed and the saved. Among that number are my friends and your friends. You know them. You had a history with them. You worshipped with them. You worked side by side with them in the kingdom.
And, right here, we need to put some faces to those words. Think about, not just people who died, or people that you loved who died, but those who are in the Lord. Christian friends. Those you worshipped with. Those that helped you in your walk with the Lord. They may have been in your home for a dinner. You may have been taught by them. You may have been encouraged by them. You loved them. They were good people. I can just put names after names here. People early in my life. People who were there when I first started preaching. People whose hearts grew strong and close to mine. Great people. God’s people. Friends above. Billy. Dick. Lillie. My grandparents. My parents. Marty. Bob. Wilma. Jeff. Donna. JoAnn. Richard. So many funerals. So many tears. For many, so many years ago. But they are there. Waiting. They are there.
Fourth, the way the hymn flows, it is as if we will continue to be friends on the other side. And, why not. The only thing that has changed is the location. Rather than here, we’ll be there. And, instead of things having to end here, they will carry on there. It won’t be movies and card games and food and travels. But it will be what joined our hearts in the first place, the Lord. It will be worship. It will be holiness. It will be wonderful.
Our verse today reminds us of the wonderful gifts given to us by the Lord. Among those gifts, often overlooked and taken for granted is the powerful gift of love, memory and feelings. That’s what friends share: love, memory and feelings. And, knowing that we have friends above, not looking down and watching us. Not sending us messages, that’s all contemporary rubbish, but knowing they are there, safe in the arms of Jesus. Knowing that they are never sick again. Knowing that they never are tried or tested again. Knowing that they are where they always wanted to be.
And, someday, if the Lord allows this ole’ planet to continue on, you and I will be someone’s friend above. For that to happen, we must first get there. We must be walking with the Lord. But also, we must be making true friendships of a spiritual level that matter.
Friends above, what a wonderful thought.