Death: the final enemy

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I’m on a little vacation right now, and have been doing alot of relaxing and thinking. Back home, I have many friends who are preparing to go to a funeral home tonight, to honor a guy we went to school with– state trooper, Jon Nash. Thankfully, Jon is with the Lord right now, so we have the peace that transcends understanding as we grieve his loss.

I’ve thought more about death this last year than in all the other years put together. My dad died last August, and it was the most devastating loss I’ve ever experienced. I’m still grieving, actually…and sometimes it STILL doesn’t seem real. Death is such a weird thing. As my dad lay dying and I had to watch him slip away, I began to really hate death. It was an enemy that was stealing my daddy, and I felt a hatred for that awful thing. But when he actually took that last breath, and we watched- in that sacred moment- as he left us, God began to give me a clearer vision of what my dad was experiencing. I began to focus my attention, not on my loss…but on my dad’s gain. Where was he? what was  he doing? what was he seeing? Remember the song “I can only imagine” ?? That’s what I was doing…trying to imagine. And it gave me such an incredible peace, that I began to wonder if I really should’ve been hating death like I had. After all, death had been his entrance into LIFE!! Shouldn’t I be celebrating for my dad?

I kinda wrestled with this for a while…wondering why I still hated death, even though it’s actually–for the believer– the most joyous moment of all. As I was reading Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven, he made a statement that clarified things for me. He said:  “Death is painful, and it’s an enemy. But for those who know Jesus, death is the FINAL pain, and the LAST enemy (I Cor. 15:25-26, Is. 25:7-8)”  

The Apostle Paul wrote, “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ ” (I Cor. 15:54-55)

Notice he said “When this happens…THEN the saying will come true”… this is important. People would quote that line to me “Death, where is your sting?” and I would think: “It still stings to me. I know it doesn’t sting like it would if I had no hope, but it still stings!”  Then I went and read this verse again myself, and realized Paul is saying that WHEN this happens (the perishable is clothed with the imperishable) THEN death has no sting. Like Alcorn says, the last enemy has been faced.

For those of us who still await that final enemy, death still stings. We’re on THIS end of it, feeling the loss and the pain. They are on that end of it, having already faced their final enemy. So really, it’s valid to feel BOTH of the feelings I described: hatred of that enemy, yet celebrating the fact that my loved one has just faced the final enemy, which will ultimately be defeated when God “swallows up death forever.”

In the final Narnia book, The Last Battle, there’s a section called “Farewell to Shadowlands.” I love the words of Aslan: “There WAS a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are–as you used to call it in the Shadowlands–dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning. ”

What a beautiful thought! The dream is ended…this is the morning!! “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.” (Heb. 6:19)

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9 Responses to “Death: the final enemy”

  1. Hannah Says:

    Thanks for your thoughts Charity 🙂 I always enjoy reading these and it’s encouraging to me as someone younger along in my faith to watch you as you grow on this “Faith Journey.” My Mom and I have been talking recently about how much death has been in our family. It seems like no one died and then all the sudden everyone started to die. I was an EMT before I met Jason so I saw a few people die and I really had no connection with them so it didn’t bother me as much as it could have but my 17 year old cousin died 5 years ago and we were both really close so that hit hard, probably the hardest to date. A whole generation of family has died since then. But in the course of these 5 years I’ve had to sort through coping with this also and just the reality of it.
    Probably the most encouraging thing that I heard was a Pastor that we had in Colorado gave the most interesting analogy and I think about it alot. He said that when babies are in the womb they are comfortable. They are moving around and enjoying the “Home” that they are in. They are oblivious to how vast the world right outside them is. In fact, they are terrified to come out. Meanwhile, the parents, the doctors and all the family members are so excited to see the new little creation God has made and can’t wait for them to come out. He said what if heaven is like this? What if we are scared of death and leaving this “comfy” home that we have made only to realize that there’s something so much better awaiting us – a joyful procession of on lookers ready to welcome us into something so much greater than we now have. The labor is hard but the reward is enternal.
    I just thought I’d share this because it really gave me a new perspective 🙂 Hope that you have a great little mini vacation and thanks again for all your insights!

  2. Charity Says:

    Thanks, Hannah! I LOVE what you said! That analogy is so interesting…and I believe it’s accurate. The author I mentioned (Randy Alcorn) has this view. He has written some fiction novels, and I read one of them (Deadline)…in it, he describes someone entering Heaven and being escorted around by his guardian angel, learning all kinds of interesting things. At one point they are summoned to the “birthing room” and he gets to witness the “birth” of someone. It’s that person’s entrance into Heaven, like you just described. Kind of a cool thought, isn’t it?

    By the way, I really love this author’s books. Heaven, especially. It’s FULL of Scripture, and gives a fascinating and exciting view of Heaven. Makes ya anxious to be there! (which is a good thing!) I think too many people have a warped view of a boring Heaven, and it’s hard to set your mind and heart on a place that sounds boring. It also makes you love earth too much if Heaven sounds uninteresting. I’m thinking it’s a deception of the enemy to get our hearts away from God and on earthly things more. Alcorn’s books make me think about Heaven and they get me excited about what we’re in for!! 🙂

  3. Gordon Says:

    Charity, Read it and really like it,with both my brothers (Al and Harold), passing this year, we really can’t imagine with our finite minds because eye has not seen nor has ear heard…… but what a joy to know that they both knew the Lord before they passed, which is better to say passed then died, because believers have passed from this life to the next.

    Enjoyed reading it and the comment by Hannah.

    God Bless

  4. Nellie LePard Says:

    Charity,
    If the tears were not streaming down my face as I write this, I would try to come up with a very profound statement. But as it is, you said it all and thank you for your beautiful writing. God has blessed you with the gift of encouraging and edifying others. As you and I spoke about when you were here for Daddy’s funeral, it puts so much into a different perspective…it feels as if we can take a “ginormous step up” and be there with our Daddys. Oh the reunion we have to look forward to, as we strive for Him everyday of our lives. “What a day that will be…” ❤

  5. Charity Says:

    Gordy, I’ve thought about you so much lately…how hard it must be to say goodbye to 2 brothers in less than a year. You’re right–what a joy to know that they are with the Lord! I’m still praying for you, that God will continue to give you His peace and comfort.

    Thanks so much, Nell, for your sweet comments. I was thinking of you, actually, as I wrote this….you and your whole family. We’ve all just walked the same path this year, and it’s been quite an experience. Alot of deep, profound sadness and grieving, but also alot of renewed thinking about Heaven and the incredible reunion we’re in for!! So thankful we all have the peace and comfort in knowing where they are and that we’ll see them again!

  6. Cinnamon Mazzola Says:

    Thank you, Charity for your words. I,too, sat with tears as I read it. What a wonderful perspective. I’m blessed to have a friend with such an amazing gift. You have always been able to bring comfort & joy with your words to me. Actually I know it’s God’s words speaking to me through you. Thank You! I have continued to pray for you as you’ve been grieving this past year.

  7. Charity Says:

    Aww, thanks, Cinnamon! Such an encouragement to know that God uses my random thoughts to actually speak to people! I was thinking of you, too, as I wrote it. Death is so hard…and the emotions are so overwhelming. Thanks so much for your prayers!! Love you, girl!!

  8. Ann Says:

    You have a lovely writing style, and even more importantly, thoughts worth expressing! Thanks for your transparency about your dad. He was greatly loved by many! He was a wonderful pastor, and I will always smile every time I think about him. 🙂

  9. Charity Says:

    Thanks, Ann, for the sweet words. It always means so much when someone tells me how special Daddy was to them. Reminds me that he was very loved and that he touched many lives for God’s glory. Thanks for taking the time to tell me!

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