Christians see Death as an enemy, but not necessarily a disaster. We speak of those who have "gone on before us." Our loved ones have "gone to be with the Lord." Our funerals are called "Homegoing Services."
How dare we not fear death! How dare we not weep and wail as if the greatest of disasters has come upon our loved one? We mourn, yes. But we do not mourn as the world mourns, like those who have no hope. But in what lies our confidence?
Eccl. 12:1-7 is an allegory given to young men, reminding them of the inevitability of aging and death. It ends in the following way:
6) Remember him [meaning God]– before the silver cord is severed,
or the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
or the wheel broken at the well,
7) and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
I especially like the part about the spirit returns to God who gave it. In Genesis, when Abraham died, the Bible says he "breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people."
The Bible always has an expectation of a continuance after mortal death. When Jesus was crucified, what did he tell the criminal who was being executed beside him? "Today you will be with me in paradise."
You're going somewhere. Today. Not at the end of the age. Not at the end of time. Not after you have experienced soul sleep. But today!
Together these verses tell me these very reassuring facts:
- I will continue to exist after my death. There is life after life.
- My spirit will not remain on this earth haunting people.
- There is a destination for my spirit. It will not dissipate. It will not wander aimlessly. It will not merge with other personalities into some sort of cosmic spiritual ether. I am safely in God's hands in the place He calls Paradise.
- I will reach my destination immediately. There's no interim location where I wait to see if I will be allowed in. There is no soul sleep, an eon of timeless unconsciousness until it is time for my judgment. I will go to Paradise the day I die.
- Jesus is also in Paradise. Where He is, I will be. I will not be separated from my God.
And I think it is the last that gives me the greatest joy. My spirit will be gathered in to join those of my ancestors. My spirit will return to its point of origin, the God who made it. But most of all... nothing, but nothing will ever... ever separate me from the love of my God.