Written: July 31, 2016
Perhaps some of you remember a movie called, “Three weddings and a funeral”; well, for me this weekend could be entitled: THREE FUNERALS AND A BAPTISM. My youngest son graciously agreed once again to accompany his mother on a difficult journey, as we traveled first to Alabama and then Mississippi to say goodbye to two dear friends. While we were on our way, I received the call from my dearest friend that her mother too had passed away. I was not sure how much more I could take. For this reason, when I received the invitation to the baptismal service of my great niece and nephew, I knew I had to be there.
It is the act of baptism that openly identifies us with Christ in life and marks the beginning of our earthly journey with Him. It’s the faith behind the baptism that guarantees through the indwelling of the Spirit the peace and assurance of a life in eternity once this life ends. I’m so thrilled to see the next generation of our family join the greater family of Christ, and look forward to seeing how He will work in and through them as they grow fuller in His likeness.
With all the death that has come our way in the past months, Isaiah 57:1-2, spoke to me deeply on Friday: “The righteous perish and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”
Shells, earthly shells–worth nothing without the soul that truly defined them. All you can do is bury them in the ground. The best part, the true person, has gone on to eternity, leaving those of us still trapped in our own shells to continue on another day. We are never guaranteed length of days, only the strength and mercy to get through each one we are allotted by God’s grace, as we seek to follow Christ in obedience and faith. I have thought about many lives that are now “past” in the last eight months, and I am ever reminded of the importance of using each day to His glory and for His kingdom. From beginning to end, it’s not about us, but about Him.
I look into the sweet, glowing faces of my great niece and nephew and see the new hope they have because of the Spirit now in them both. They have challenging days ahead in living out their new faith in Christ in an increasingly dark and evil world, but they are not without the resources that God gives each of us to live life to the full in Him.
I saw the shells of the saints who have moved on to a new reality in Christ, and am reminded that they too have a new beginning in the presence of God. So, while this weekend may look like it started with the end, in reality it’s only the beginning!
The Lord reminded me of Romans 6:4, which reads: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” It was the reminder that it is this beginning that makes the peace at the end even possible. Glory be to God.
Grace and Peace