Monday Minutes With Pastor Chris McCool

Where did the summer go?  I know this has been a crazy year, with a shortened school spring semester, but It still seems like it was just yesterday that the schools were dismissing!  I remember when I was a young child, in elementary school, that one of my favorite days of the year was the day school let out in May.  On that day, it seemed that the summer would never end! 

And then – all of sudden, it seemed to me – the first day of fall classes was almost here.  The melancholy I felt as a child when I realized the end of the summer break was near still afflicts me as an adult.  I always feel a little sadness, and even regret, on that late July morning arrives when I taste a bit of fall in the air.  I feel like something good is coming to an end, and the world is moving on.

I seem to feel it more keenly this year, as my last birthday took me well past the half-century mark, moving me ever closer to six decades on this earth.  In terms of seasons, I recognize that the spring of my youth has passed, and I am approaching the fall of my life.  The winter of death, that once seemed a fanciful, distant dream, has become an ominous presence to me now, almost visible in the distance!  I suppose if I allow myself to dwell upon the swift passing of the years, I could easily become depressed.  The saying promoted in the world is, “Life is hard, and then you die.”  What a depressing thought!  Is this all there is to life?

Thankfully, this is NOT all there is to life!  I find a much better message in the word of God, and a truth therein that comforts me.  The psalmist says, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”  (Ps. 90:10).  Certainly, life IS hard – even if we live to be 80, it is filled with labor and sorrow.  But while the psalmist agrees that “then you die,” he disagrees on the characterization of that death:  “we fly away”.  Fly away?  To where?

Well, my friend, we fly away to a place far better than this earth on which we dwell!  The place we are going to is a land of purity, filled with glorious sights that no man here can fathom or describe.  Rev. 21-22.  It is a place of perfect fellowship with the Lord Who saved us, for there we shall be “like Him.”  1 John 3:2.  It is a place where doctors, lawyers, nurses, and undertakers will be out of business!  2 Tim. 1:10.

I want to stay here on earth as long as the Lord has a use for me.  I want to stay here on earth in order to help my family, and my church family, in whatever way the Lord will permit me to do so.  But when the years of my life are ended, I long more than anything to be in that heavenly home with our Heavenly Lord, throughout eternity!  And how, you might ask, will this be accomplished?  Through the Resurrection that is coming one day for all of God’s people.

Paul writes the Thessalonians about these matters:

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”  1 Thess. 4:13-18.

Notice that Jesus Christ Himself will be returning to get His people – He is not leaving that job to someone else!  As a consequence, not one of His elect children will be lost!  Regardless of the circumstances of their deaths or the condition of their bodies, ALL of the dead in Christ will rise.  And all of the ones who are still alive at His return will be caught up together with them to meet Jesus Himself in the air, and we will all then be with Him forever.

The reason that we should focus upon the Resurrection is that we might be comforted as we face the trials of life.  Often we hear the return of Christ preached in a way that elicits fear from the hearer; but Paul tells us the prospect of His return should bring us comfort.  Jesus’ second coming ought to be a source of joy and peace, rather than fear and confusion.  You see, the simple truth is that Jesus is coming back to take us all home to be with Him forever!

What a blissful hope!  This is a promise that, even though summers end in this life, there is another life – a better life – where the summer break lasts all year round.  C.S. Lewis, one of the most well-known Christian apologists of his time, wrote a series of children’s books entitled “The Chronicles of Narnia.”  As a child, his Narnia series was one of my favorites, and I have found many of Lewis’ allegorical depictions of Christianity to be inspiring and thought-provoking.  And perhaps the most inspiring of all is his summation of the heroes’ entrance into the heavenly realms at the end of the last book of the series, when the great lion Aslan (whom Lewis intended to represent Christ in this series) tells them, “The term is over, the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended:  this is the morning.”  The writer goes on to describe their experience in a particularly gripping ending:  “[T]he things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page:  now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no none on earth has read:  which goes on for ever:  in which every chapter is better than the one before.”  (Chronicles of Narnia:  The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis).

Yes, I take comfort from this knowledge even as I see the summer end and the kids start back to school.  For the first time in my life, I will not have a child in high school (two of my children are finished with school, and two are now in college – my youngest son begins his freshman year in a couple of days!). For the first time, I will have no “official business” at the primary school which educated my children over the past 20 years. And for the last time, I will experience the view of one of my children driving away from the house on the “last first day” of college.  And while I am sure tears will flow, they will not be tears of despair!  Because I have a blessed hope that one day there will be no more “last days,” and our lives instead will be eternal, without separation, safe within the shadow of His wings!

May the Lord bless us all to keep our eyes upon this blissful hope of eternal life, which hope is an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and based solely upon the finished work of Christ on Calvary!

-Eld. Chris McCool