Thursday, March 29, 2012

‘Precious in the Sight of God . . .’

Suspend your disbelief for a moment and suppose you could communicate with a baby in the womb, days or even moments before its birth. You attempt to explain the wonderful, incredible world it’s about to enter, trying to convey some of the sights and sensations it will experience.

When your effusive description is over, the baby responds, “No thanks. I’m good. I have everything I need here. It’s cozy. I’m close to Mommy. I want to stay here.”

Of course we can’t communicate cognitively with babies in utero. And they can’t choose to remain in the womb when time comes for them to enter the outside world. Parents are excitedly waiting to welcome the new addition to the family, to set eyes on the little one for the first time. With wide smiles and arms poised for embrace, they’re ready to nurture the infant, and share in the wonderment of their new life.

This image helps me to understand one of the strangest verses in the Bible. Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Reading this passage for first time I thought, “Really? Is God some kind of sadist? What’s ‘precious’ about death?”

But pondering these questions, the human birth analogy came to mind. Life on earth, with its physical and temporal limitations, is our “womb.” Despite pain and hardships, it’s all we know. So we cling to it. Death is the enemy. Even in the throes of dread diseases, we desire healing.

What if, however, on “the other side of eternity,” death looks more like birth – merely leaving one environment and entering a new, wondrous one we could never have imagined?

In fact, the Bible promises this: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). Just as an unborn infant can’t fathom the world that awaits it, the Scriptures assert the same is true of the life after death.

And just as proud parents have lovingly arranged a nursery for little Jake or Jill, our Lord is as eager to show what He’s prepared for us. Jesus said as much in John 14:2: “In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” In essence, He’s saying, “Wait until you see what I have for you!”

This week another dear friend was called home by the Lord. Her passing is difficult for the family, without question. From the beginning, God built us for relationships; when they’re disrupted in this life by death, the void can’t be filled, and grieving family and friends remain.

But imagine leaving this “womb” and entering a new, unending life – and receiving the embrace of your Heavenly Father, His broad smile accompanied by the words, “Welcome home, My child. We’ve been waiting for you!” That sounds precious to me.

Borrowing the words of the vocal group Mercyme, “I can only imagine.”

1 comment:

Jim Lange said...

Wow Bob, very well said. Great perspective of birth and death. Thanks for sharing!