As I write this, I’m reflecting on and grieving with the family of a friend of ours, Norm, who passed from this life into the presence of God a little over a week ago.  Norm lived an amazing life, and will be sorely missed by all of us, even though we know He is with Jesus Christ right now. One of Norm’s daughters recounted the time when Norm was given the task of bringing food to the family of a close relative who had died. After gathering the food together and seeing there was more than enough food for his relatives, Norm looked at his family and said,  “Since we’re the grieving bunch, let’s have a sandwich!”

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There is a big truth behind Norm’s statement. In the middle of loss and grief, God wants to feed us the bread of His very presence.

Worshipping God in the midst of grief and sadness can be incredibly hard.  Even as we cry tears and feel a deep loss and emptiness when a loved one passes from our sight, we also have the choice to walk away from God in hurt and anger or run to Him with our tears and questions.  Deep worship happens when we choose to trust God beyond our sight and circumstances. Even in the face of death.

It begins by understanding that death is not the end.  God did not create us to die.  I believe we all have a strong sense of eternity within our being. There is something deep within each of us that resonates with the thought of eternity. However, death is a terrible beast that rips at the very fabric of our being. This is why we are all so repulsed by death and fight against it.  The Bible calls death one of the final enemies that God will one day put away forever. Jesus was repulsed and angry at the travesty of the death of his friend Lazarus. But it didn’t end there. Jesus did something about this: He brought his friend Lazarus back to life after four days in the grave.

I believe in God who created a beautiful cosmos and human beings made in His image as eternal beings. That reality was shattered by the sinful choice of the first humans to turn away from God and try to be the masters of their own destiny. The consequence of that choice was a broken cosmos that is still marred by disease, tragedy, and death. The sin of those first people, Adam and Eve, was indelibly etched into each one of us, like spiritual DNA so that we carry in our very nature this fatal flaw that separates us from God, who is pure, holy, and flawless.

When someone we know dies, we are reminded of our own mortality.  The single most important question each of us must wrestle with and decide on is whether or not we will seek and turn to God, in the person of Jesus Christ. You see God is in the business of restoring and making good out of bad, beauty out of ashes, and He made a way for us to be forever restored to him. God can take you wherever you are and bring you to a new place, not only after this life but in this life as well.  If you’re on the fence about this, I urge you to start a conversation with God and ask him to help you find Him— even in your doubts and hurt. God tells us in the Book of Jeremiah that when we seek Him with all of our heart we will find Him, but only if we seek Him with all of our heart. It

It’s so easy to put God on the back burner of our life, but there are no guarantees on any of our days here on earth.  Use the time God has given you today, rather that relegating this to a “someday I’ll get to it ” wish. I urge you to commit to actively finding out more about who Jesus Christ is. Join a Bible study, talk with someone you know has an authentic and vibrant faith, and find a healthy, authentic, Bible-based church.

The heart of our faith is that Jesus Christ is God’s own Son, who became a person, lived a flawless life and then died for our flawed nature and failures.  He overcame death and rose again, and was seen by over 500 people—most of whom were killed for their faith rather than renouncing what they had seen with their own eyes. In dying and rising Jesus Christ made a way for us to live past our death in a perfect place God has prepared for us. He promises that if we turn away from our old life and truly receive Him as the new Source of our righteousness, life, and existence we will receive a brand new nature: His own!  At the time we relinquish control of our being to Jesus, our flawed nature is replaced and covered by Jesus’ perfect presence, so that when God looks at us, he sees the perfection of His own Son. When we place our life and being in the loving care of Jesus, we have hope for this life and an incredible life beyond this one with God, who promises that someday we will be given a new, resurrected body like Jesus, free from all sickness, death, decay, or sadness.

This has nothing to do with being religious. Religion cries out for us to DO, DO MORE, and then DO MORE AGAIN. On the cross, Jesus changed DO to DONE. We can stop striving and receive and rest in Jesus who did it all for us.

Our friend Norm is experiencing God right now.  Just as Jesus raised his Lazarus back to life, so Norm has been loosed from the bondage of death. He is dancing in heaven, forever free from death, pain and suffering, looking forward to the day when he will be given the new physical, eternal body like Jesus. He would tell us that there’s no way he’d go back to the old, tired body because it’s too much fun and glorious to be with God. And it’s all because of Jesus.  Norm is also cheering us on from heaven. I believe he’s telling us to pay attention to what’s really important in life, like actively seeking God and Jesus, loving and enjoying family and each other, and living for eternity.

And finally Norm would tell us since we are the grieving bunch, have a sandwich together!

I appreciate you taking the time to read this. Keep sending your thoughts, and please let others know about this weekly worship blog.

God bless you!

 

Chris