Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Stand Up And Bless The Lord"1 (Lyrics)
I had students coming to my home to help ready my garden for planting, but I had no tools. At the time, I was working as a greeter at our downtown credit union, right inside the front door. A friend said that he'd bring me something to use. But instead of turning up at my home with the weedwhacker that I'd been expecting, he brought a seven-foot scythe with a curved and sharpened five-foot blade, and deposited it right across my little desk alongside the coffee machine and cookies. My manager hurried to stick it in the back until I went home. The students loved it!
These days, such a scythe is only seen clutched in the bony hand of the Grim Reaper, a hooded figure in a black robe. But the Bible is very clear that for Christ-followers, death is not forever.
Hebrews 2:15 – And also that [Christ] might deliver and completely set free all those who through the [haunting] fear of death, were held in bondage throughout the whole course of their lives. (AMPC)
Long ago, my husband's parents were on a bus that braked sharply in traffic, throwing his mother up against the fare box. His father rushed over and gathered her up in his arms, then carried her off the bus, rather than leave her lying there till an ambulance arrived. But her spleen had been damaged, and she died. The police had to investigate, and though nobody blamed him, his father blamed himself, stopped attending church, and felt that God could not forgive him.
His actions that led to his wife's death remained the central fact of his life. Years later, with lung cancer, he travelled across the country to move in with us. Since we went to church, he went back, too. One day, in desperation, to our pastor, he spilled out everything about the torturous turn his life had taken long ago. That pastor put his arms around my father-in-law, telling him that God had forgiven him as soon as he had asked, and He had kept on loving him. You never saw such a change in a person when the pastor's words sank in. My father-in-law found peace.
In the last few minutes of his life, I was holding his hand. "Open the curtains, Daughter," he asked me, with a smile. "I want to see where I'm going." Then, he looked toward heaven, closed his eyes — and died.
Do you need forgiveness for something in your life? Is death a source of fear for you, whenever you hear it mentioned? Peace is God's gift to all believers — no more carrying around the past and its pain. For those who believe in Jesus, death itself will have an end, the Bible promises. Until that day, we have God's forgiveness, and we can know peace.
Prayer: Dear Father God, how grateful we are for Your grace and mercy. We know the reality of death as we age. But as believers, we know that it no longer has any power over us. We know that our hope in heaven continues to light our pathway with the reality of Your presence in our lives. Thank You for ridding us of haunting memories in this life, replacing them with hope and peace as we turn to You and let go of all our old doubts and fears. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.