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Our servant, not our master

The recent and sudden death of Brian Boucher, a pillar in the Windrush community has affected many. As his son in law, Matt recently expressed, those in the first two rows have been impacted the most. My husband and I watched Brian’s celebration of life from Uruguay and were grateful to have been able to listen in on stories of how the love demonstrated by this man made eternal impressions on his family and others.

Death has a way of making us reflect—to think about how we are living our own lives as well as consider the moment when we will also undoubtedly leave this earth. Recognizing more clearly how quickly things can change between life and death, I too have been pondering and have revisited a time where some of my fears and struggles were brought to light in regard to this topic.

Death had never felt so real as in March of 2020. My husband and I traveled to Switzerland from Uruguay. The day after we arrived everything shut down due to the pandemic, and a few days later we both became sick with upper respiratory symptoms and fever. I remember laying in bed agonizing with fear that we had possibly infected our son in law and pregnant daughter whom we had come to help, with their new baby soon to arrive.

Fortunately, the story has a happy ending—our kids didn’t get sick, we recovered, and our first grandson, Emory, had a beautiful home birth. Yet, the experience of feeling the brush with death, real or imagined, made me want to be more settled and prepared for the reality of one day departing from this earth.

During our extended stay in Switzerland, we read a book together called Imagine Heaven by John Burke. It chronicles over one hundred perspectives from people who have had near death experiences, and compares them to what scripture reveals about heaven. The book impacted us and raised our expectations for all we have to look forward to. It also inspired us to live for eternity, especially in regard to recognizing the importance of love. It truly is the currency of heaven.

Months later after returning to Uruguay, I was reading a Bible commentary and this quote jumped out, “Death is our servant, not our master! Death may be to us as the angel who touched Peter in Acts 12, causing his chains to fall off, and leading him through a gate that opens by itself, into real freedom.” David Guzik.

Wow. “Death is our servant, not our master.” That quote brought joy and settled my heart with a fresh perspective, as did reading these verses in 1 Corinthians 15. “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”

These verses are so hopeful and beautiful, and make me all the more grateful for the real freedom that death will bring physically. Raise your hand if you would prefer a perishable, dishonored, weak, natural body as opposed to an immortal, spiritual body full of glory and power. It makes me realize that to stay in this body forever would mean just that. Thank You Lord, for the gift of death that will liberate us into the incredible freedom You’ve purchased for us.

Heaven will have many magnificent moments, but the most glorious part of our new existence will be our face to face relationship with God. We cannot even begin to imagine the joy, love, peace, beauty and intimacy we will enjoy with Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit. The unmet longings that we currently feel will finally be satiated by His love. At last we will find our true home in Him.

As author Ken Gire writes, “Death. It is the most misunderstood part of life. It is not a great sleep but a great awakening. It is that moment when we awake, rub our eyes and see things at last the way God has seen them all along.”

Until that time of awakening happens for each of us, may we learn more about receiving love and giving it. Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15: 9,12. May we receive our belovedness, remain in our belovedness, and impart to others how beloved they are.

Cathy Stallings

Photo - The Liberation of St. Peter by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Spain, 1667

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