Mountain View Perspective

When Life Comes to an End

God (the Father) will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. (I Thess. 4:17)

Christmas 2000 has come and gone and for many Christian families it was a joyous occasion. The observance of Christ’s birth, sildenafil stuff the gathering of families, and the giving of gifts to one another was certainly a wonderful mountain top celebration for many of us.   Yet for a few this year it was not a mountain top experience, but rather a valley of difficulty. During this Christmas season four children at our school (Taylor, Jackson, & Trenton Ernest and Nathan Lamb) lost parents (Michelle Ernest, Greg Lamb) and one of our teacher’s sons (Justin Rogan) is still fighting for his life in an intensive care unit at St. Luke’s hospital.

During times of struggle it is good to acknowledge that God is in control and has not ceased from His shepherding commitment. Amidst dark valleys, He is able to work all things together for good, even though they seem tragic at the moment (John 10:14; Romans 8:28).   There are many great analogies in the Bible describing God’s love for His people, but I believe God as a shepherd in these circumstances teaches us the most about losing loved ones.   When a shepherd completes his one-year journey with his flock, they (shepherd and sheep) often climb one last mountain peak together before they head home.   From the top everything can be seen, both the path traveled and the road home.   Dangerous rivers and dark valleys that seemed so difficult to cross or pass through at one time are but now milestones.

 When the sheep are ready to make their final decent toward home, not all will be able to complete the last leg of the journey.  Some sheep cannot finish because they are too sick or old. In response, a loving shepherd will stay on the mountain with them until they have passed on.  Meanwhile the flock is then led down by another shepherd, under shepherd, or hireling.   The sheep that are left behind will never again have to cross another dangerous river or walk through a dark valley. Their journey is over; they will remain on top of the mountain with their shepherd until they have breathed their last breath.

This is how it is with God’s plan for those who are dying or have passed away.  According to Scripture, He, like the shepherd in this analogy will not leave any of us, nor will He ever allow us out of His presence (I Thessalonians4:13-14; Hebrews 13:5). We will remain with Him, able to see things from a Mountain View perspective. In fact, those who have passed on will become a cloud of witnesses able to see God’s work from a heavenly view (Hebrews 12:1-2). Meanwhile, the Spirit leads the living flock down the mountain toward home, and prepares them for another journey   (John 14:26; John 16:13). Although the present separation of death may be difficult, a grand reunion comes when Christ returns to earth.    At this point all of God’s faithful (families, loved ones, friends) will gather together to form a new heavenly home, a dwelling without the fear or discouragement of death. Christ’s death and resurrection insured this; He took the sting out of death for all believers (I Cor. 55-57).  This whole glorious ending will be the greatest celebration of all; it will be a Christmas of Christmas’s.

Personal Note

On a personal note, I would like to express my deepest feelings of care and love for each of you who have traveled through a dark valley this Christmas.   Please let me know how I can support and uplift you in the days to come.

Teachable Moment

In your teachable moment, take your children (add other Christian families to your trek) to a mountain top, or the highest point in your community.  Role-play each part of the shepherd’s analogy discussed above.   Select for example one of your children to be the Spirit, the one who will lead the living sheep home.   Choose another child the play the caring role of God the Father, the one who takes care of the dying sheep.   Create as many roles as you can, but in the end tell them with conviction that God will never them, not even in death.

God’s Word

John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me,

Rom. 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.

1 Thess. 4:13-14 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

Hebrews 13:5 “…I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you”

Heb. 12:1-2 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

John 14:26   “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

John 16:13  “…. He will guide you into all the truth…. and He will disclose to you what is to come.”

1 Cor. 15:55-57 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? …thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”