Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“And out walked the man (Lazarus) who had been dead, his hands and feet wrapped in burial cloths (linen strips), and with a [burial] napkin bound around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Free him of the burial wrappings and let him go.’”
John 11: 44
“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish, (sorrow and mourning), nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away.”
“Bless God that there is in us resurrection life, and that there awaits us a resurrection.”
J. J. Bonar
Thoughts for Consideration:
What first comes to my mind when I hear the word “reunion?”
“The best news the world ever had came from a graveyard.”
“Set your minds and keep them set on what is above, the (higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.”
Colossians 3: 2
When my dad was just 6 months old his Godly mother died suddenly leaving behind 8 living children. My father’s dad felt that a young baby would be too difficult to care for so he chose to return to Elizabethton, Tennessee, where the family was from, intending to get my father back once he was settled. Unfortunately, while my dad’s father may have had hopeful thoughts regarding the future, things certainly didn’t go as planned for he died as well. My dad ended up in a foster home in Tempe, Arizona, and one of his older brothers was left behind in Elizabethton. It would be over 35 years before my dad met his brother in Tennessee. As a young girl of about nine years of age, I’ll never forget pulling up in front of a lovely red brick house in Elizabethton and watching this man, who reminded me exactly of my dad, running down the front steps of the house. By that time my dad had leaped from the car, and he too was running toward a brother he did not know.
There were many tears that day – all created by the joy of being reunited with those you love. Several years later, my maternal Grandma, who had been aware of the tragic circumstances surrounding my dad’s childhood, decided to throw a party, a family reunion of my dad’s brothers and sisters who had been scattered after their parent’s death. With the help of my mother, they collected baby pictures and hung them on the walls of the family room and then all these siblings had to try and guess who was in each picture. I remember watching from a corner as those men and women, separated by time and circumstance embraced each other with a happiness I hadn’t witnessed before in my life.
The dictionary defines a “reunion” as a “gathering of the members of a group who have been previously separated.” If we think about this definition for a moment, we are certainly able to apply the meaning of the word “reunion” to what transpired in the graveyard in Bethany. The word separation appears more applicable to a place filled with linen-wrapped corpses – that is until Jesus arrived. To say He turned everything upside-down would be an understatement. As J. R. Macduff relates the story, “where Scripture is silent, it is vain for us to picture the emotions of that moment, when weeping sisters found the gloomy hours of disconsolate sorrow all at once rolled away. The cry of mingled wonder and gratitude rings through the lonely graveyard, ‘This our brother was dead, and is alive again.’ O most wondrous power – Death vanquished in his own territory!...The all-devouring destroyer has to relinquish his prey.”
What a moment of incredible happiness. With their dear brother encircled in their arms of love we can only imagine the great gratitude as Bethany’s family celebrated what seemed completely impossible just a few minutes earlier.
As I’ve pondered this miraculous event, I’ve asked myself this question: “Why is it that we talk so little about heavenly reunions?” Is it the fact that we have become so used to living on earth that the idea of a permanent heavenly home seems too incredible to believe? I know that as a young girl, I’d sometimes lie on my bed gazing up at the ceiling trying to comprehend with my childish mind the fact that “earth wasn’t all there was.” And to be completely honest, the idea that things of earth could pass away seemed like one big fairy-tale. Maybe even too good to be true.
And yet, after Lazarus came from the tomb, I doubt his sisters ever distrusted the words of Jesus again. I really appreciate the encouragement the great theologian C. S. Lewis gives you and me when he penned this wise counsel, “A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do.”
If there is some question mark about the idea of grand reunions in the world to come, we need only to take into our hearts these words by J. R. Macduff when he asked this question: “Was the joy of that moment, (at the tomb of Lazarus), confined only to the two sisters? Nay! Down through every age we may well love to linger around the grave of Lazarus. In his resurrection there is a sure pledge…It was the first sheaf reaped by the mower’s sickle anticipatory of the great Harvest-home of the final day, ‘when all that are in their graves’, shall hear the same voice as Lazarus and shall ‘come forth.’” May we never think so little of heaven and that grand reunion that we pass through our lives believing nothing this wonderful could ever be. As poet Edwin Hatch so eloquently penned:
“In God’s perfect heaven
All aspirations meet,
Each separate longing is fulfilled
Each separate soul complete.”
“Jesus has forced open a door that had been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so.”
C. S. Lewis
“Let us sing a song that will cheer
us by the way,
In a little while we’re going home;
For the night will end in the
In a little while we’re going home;
There’s a rest beyond,
there’s relief from every care,
In a little while we’re going home;
And no tears shall fall in that
city bright and fair,
In a little while we’re going home.”
“Again, I charge you,
MEET ME IN HEAVEN!”
Charles H. Spurgeon
“Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me. In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places – (homes). If it were not so I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you. And when (if) I go and make ready a place for you I will come back again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.”
John 14: 1
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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