It is permissible for even the most ardent believer to momentarily frown and perhaps even shudder a bit when thinking of the time when we will, as Shakespeare wrote, “have shuffled off this mortal coil” through physical death. We’re human, and will initially feel the reactions of our present limitations regardless of how strongly we trust the Lord Jesus Christ.
Quickly, however, our frown and shudder must be replaced with a smile and a deep rejoicing in the realization that our earthly demise opens the door into heavenly delight. Such abundance of joy primarily references not streets of gold, or gates of pearl, or even reunions with loved ones, as wonderful as such things and experiences will surely be. No, the chief delight of Heaven is the Lord Jesus Christ, the beloved of His Father, the object of joyous worship by angels, and the wonder of heavenly saints who, like us, trusted initially in One whom they could not see. They see Him now, however, and if they could communicate with us, would tell us that any fear of death for the trusting heart is but an illusion that will fly away upon first sight of our Redeemer.
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4).
Whence we go, we shall not go alone. Indeed, we will never have been with anyone so much as we will be with the Lord Jesus when He and His angels come to escort us to our eternal home in the heavenlies. The hindrance of our damaged humanity will drop away from our redeemed spirits, and the veil shall be lifted. Our Savior will have come for us, as He promised, and we will spiritually experience His presence in a manner far beyond any measure we knew during our earthly sojourn. “Thou art with me” will be the dominant sensibility of passing through the valley of the shadow, and our mortality will be “swallowed up of life” (II Corinthians 5:4).
I believe this truth to be a most sanctifying consideration for the present moment. When we choose by faith to overcome the temptation to fear death, great and good things happen in our hearts that cause us to pursue a life that genuinely honors God. Indeed, the only reason we need not quake and shudder when considering death is that our blessed Lord Jesus “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man ” (Hebrews 2:9). Such remembrance can only serve to foster an increased devotion of loving gratitude in the trusting heart. Thereby we bow heart and knee to give thanks, and thereby we arise with a heart determined to requite the Savior’s death by a life lived for His glory…
“I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living… O LORD, truly I am Thy servant; I am Thy servant, and the son of Thine handmaid: Thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.” (Psalm 116: 9; 16-17)