My best friend lost her husband yesterday.
I've always thought that "lost" seemed a softer way of speaking of death, less jarring.
Until I looked into her eyes and I understood how chaotic and frightened and depleted her world has become.
Idlewild, 10 years ago?, a favorite memory for the two families
Losing someone you love, someone who has cherished and devoted himself as much as Mark did Becky, is not soft. It's jarring in all the unnatural and cruel ways that death can be. "Lost" is brutally accurate.
As I held her hand, our heads tipped together, she said she believes in the tangibility of grace. She felt herself carried along by a supernatural comfort and strength not her own. That is the blessed mercy of our Soul-Physician, Jesus.
Mark has crossed the river, and rejoices today in the Celestial City.
NOW upon the bank of the River on the other side, Christian and Hopeful again saw the two shining men waiting to welcome them. Therefore, having come up out of the River, these men saluted and greeted them saying, “We are ministering spirits sent forth to serve those who shall be heirs of salvation.” Thus they proceeded towards the gate. Now you should note that the City stood upon mighty Hill, though the pilgrims ascended that Hill with ease because they had these two men to lead them up by holding their arms; also they had left their mortal garments behind them in the River, for though they went in with them, yet they came out without them. Therefore they continued to climb here with much agility and speed, even though the foundation upon which the City was built was higher than the clouds. So they went up through the regions of the air, sweetly talking as they went, being comforted because they had safely crossed the River and were being escorted by such glorious companions.
The conversation that they had with the Shining Ones was about the glory of the place, who told them that the beauty and glory of it was simply inexpressible. They further explained that there is to be found Mount Zion, the Heavenly Jerusalem, the innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect. Moreover, they explained, “You are now going to the paradise of God, in which you shall see the Tree of Life and therefore eat of its never-fading fruit. And when you arrive there you shall be given white robes, and every day you shall walk and talk with the King for all the days of eternity. There you shall not see former things such as you saw when you inhabited the lower region upon Earth, that is sorrow, sickness, affliction and death, for these former things will have passed away. Rather you are now going to reside with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the prophets, men who God took away from the evil to come, for they are resting upon their beds, each one walking in his righteousness.”
Then Christian and Hopeful asked, “What will we be occupied with in such a holy place?” To this was given the answer, “There you will receive the comfort that results from your toil, and have joy in place of your sorrow; you must reap what you have sown, even the fruit of all your prayers and tears and sufferings for the King along the way. In that place you will wear crowns of gold and enjoy the perpetual sight and visions of the Holy One, for there you shall see him as he is.” There also you shall continually serve him with praise, with shouting and thanksgiving, that is he whom you desired to serve in the world, though with much difficulty, on account of the weakness of your flesh. There your eyes shall be delighted with seeing, and your ears with hearing, the pleasant voice of the Mighty One. There you shall enjoy your friends again, that is those who arrived before you; and there you shall also joyfully welcome everyone who follows after you into this holy place. There also you will be clothed with glory and majesty, and appropriately equipped to ride forth with the King of Glory.” When he shall come with the sound of trumpets in the clouds, as upon the wings of the wind, you shall come with him; and when he shall sit upon the throne of judgment, you shall sit next to him; yes, and when he shall pass sentence upon all the workers of iniquity, whether they be angels or men, you shall also have a voice in that judgment because they were his and your enemies. Also when he shall again return to the City, you shall go with him, with the sound of trumpets, and be with him forever.”
Now while they were drawing near to the gate, behold a company of the heavenly host came out to meet them. To this multitude the Shining Ones spoke, “These are the men that have loved our Lord when they were in the world, and have left all for his holy name, and he has sent us to fetch them, and thus far have we brought them on their desired journey, that they may now go in and look their Redeemer in the face with joy.” Then the heavenly host gave a great shout saying, “Blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” At this time there also came to meet them, several of the King’s trumpeters, clothed in shining white apparel, who, with loud melodious noises, made even the heavens to echo with their sound. These trumpeters saluted Christian and his companion with ten thousand welcomes from the world; and this they did with shouting and the sound of trumpets.
This completed, they surrounded them on every side; some went ahead, some behind, and some on the right hand and some on the left, as a guard through the upper regions, continually sounding as they went with melodious noise in lofty notes. So this sight appeared, to any who could observe, as if Heaven itself had come down to meet them. Therefore they walked on together, and as they walked these trumpeters would often, with joyful sound, the composition of their music, and looks and gestures, signify to Christian and his friend just how welcome to them was their company, and how happy they were to have met them. And now were these two pilgrims as if in Heaven, in fact before they came to it, being consumed with the sight of angels and the hearing of their melodious notes.
Here also they were now able to view the City itself, and they thought they heard all the bells inside pealing to welcome them inside;20 but above all was their rapturous anticipation, the warm and joyful thoughts that they had about their dwelling there with such heavenly company, and that for ever and ever. Oh, with what tongue or pen could their glorious joy be sufficiently expressed! And thus they came up to the gate.
Now I saw in my dream that these two men went in through the gate; and behold, as they entered they were transfigured, and they were dressed with apparel that shone like gold. They were also met by those who gave them harps and crowns; the harps to add praise, and the crowns as tokens of honor bestowed. Then I heard in my dream that all the bells in the City again rang out for joy; and that it was said to the pilgrims, “Enter into the joy of your Lord.” I also heard the men themselves sing, and that with loud voices saying, “Blessing, honor, glory, and power, be to him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.” Now just as the gates were opened to let in the men, I looked in after them; and behold, the City shone like the sun; the streets also were paved with gold, and on them walked many men with crowns on their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps with which to sing praises. Also among the inhabitants there were those that had wings, and they responded in praise one to the other without ceasing, saying “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord.”
Mark's beautiful voice singing along with the choruses of heaven. I am with Bunyan when he adds:
And after that they closed the gates; and because of what I had seen of this glorious sight, I wished myself to have been inside among them.
The Sands of Time Are Sinking
(Anne Ross Cousin)
The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of heaven breaks,
The summer morn I've sighed for,
The fair sweet morn awakes;
Dark, dark, hath been the midnight,
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel's land.
The King there in his beauty
Without a veil is seen;
It were a well-spent journey
Though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with his fair army
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel's land.
O Christ, he is the fountain,
The deep sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I've tasted
More deep I'll drink above:
There to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel's land.
The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear bridegroom's face;
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of grace;
Not at the crown he gifteth,
But on his pierced hand:
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel's land.
Laura Miller aka mrsdkmiller
Looking for a list of articles published around the web?
Looking for posts written in response to 5-Minute Friday prompts? Click here:
Her March Isn't Over
Across the River
When God Pries My Fingers Off My Children
Life's Defining Moments
To the Christian Wife Who Berated Her Husband in Front of My Daughter
Zeal and Grace in France
An Unconventional Love Story
Seeing What's in Front of Our Eyes
Remembering Why I Called You Hannah
Love Your Sister.
Because He Came Home
Go Valiantly! A Prayer for New Homeschooling Moms
© lauraenglandmiller, #thereyougothinkingagain, Laura E Miller
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