Today I am preparing to attend another funeral. Our friend Nancy lost her fight with cancer and is now at peace with Jesus. Several months ago my niece told me about a song by the group Diamond Rio. The song is called “God Only Cries For The Living” and I revisit that tune at times like this. Here are some of the lyrics from the song.
God only cries for the living,
'Cause it's the living that are left to carry on.
That is a hard truth. The living are left with the financial and legal affairs. Disposing of personal items that generate tearful memories. And the living are left in a place that Scripture tells us is only a temporary dwelling place. Paul writes about our “dual citizenship” in his letter to the Philippians.
For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven.
It was interesting to talk to the hospice nurses who cared for my Mom before she died. One nurse said that it is nearly impossible to not believe in something beyond this world when you watch so many people die.
Everyone knows that we have a finite time on earth. I believe that there is more than just my 54 plus whatever years I have left here. So I must decide how to navigate how I live this life while being mindful of the next. There is a balance that is implied by the concept of dual citizenship. I remember a quote that some Christians are “so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good”. That is not what Paul is saying. Clearly we have a spiritual purpose in this life. Jesus gave us our purpose with these two items that He made clear are not just helpful guidelines…they are commandments.
“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
It reminds me of the line from the movie Bull Durham concerning the game of baseball. “"This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains." In many ways Christianity is a very simple faith that we have made incredibly legalistic and difficult. To paraphrase the line above. “You love the Lord your God. You love your neighbor. Sometimes it is easy. sometimes it is hard. Sometimes life rains on you.” I wonder how the body of Christ would look differently if we concentrated on those two simple commands? Would we worry so much about the worship music style and the vestibule carpet color? As we concentrated on those two commands we would look forward to making the move to our heavenly home.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? John 14 NLT|
The song from Diamond Rio echoes the belief that Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a better place.
An' all the angels up in Heaven,
They're not grieving because they're gone.
There's a smile on their faces,
'Cause they're in a better place…
I believe that Nancy is in a better place today. I love my life on this planet. I am not anxious to leave my family and friends. But I am not afraid. This lyric from the song by Diamond Rio portrays a powerful thought.
God only cries for the living,
'Cause it's the living that are so far from home.
That becomes more and more real to me as I get older. I have so many family and friends that have gone ahead to their eternal home. My Dad. My Mom. My daughter. My nephew. Countless friends. I miss them so much. But I rejoice for them because I am realizing more and more that I am the one who is so far from home.