A few weeks ago, Christians celebrated and remembered Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb. Easter, as we call it now, signals hope, joy, and confidence that God is in control of life and death. He is stronger than death – and Revelation tells us that one day God will throw death itself into the lake of fire.
Easter also carries some other thoughts and emotions for me and my family. Many years ago, my grandmother died on, or around, Easter. (She was born on Easter too, but not the same exact date). But more recently, my father passed away on Easter night.
I will never forget hearing the news of this early that Monday morning. I couldn’t believe it was real. I was in another state and thought my dad was going to be discharged from the hospital that day. I had even preached at our church’s sunrise service the day before about the empty tomb and connected it to my father’s apparent healing.
But today, almost to the day, we are three years removed from that Easter. What has changed? What is the same? How have we made it through these past few years? How often do I think about my dad? What do I remember most about him? What do I miss the most about him? These are just some of the questions I know I ask myself from time to time. Maybe you have asked these same kinds of questions about your own loved ones.
Three years gone by…on one hand it has been a long time. On another hand it was not that long ago. Therefore, I arrive at the question of how I process being three years removed from my father’s relatively unexpected passing…
The best way I know how is to remember and implement what my earthly father taught me about my Heavenly Father: that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for me so that where He is I will be also; to not be troubled because Jesus has overcome the world; that the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but He has come to give us life and life to the fullest; that one day the old earth and the old heaven will pass away and there will be a new heaven and a new earth where God will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more sorrow!
These verses represent just a fraction of what God says on this kind of matter. Three years gone by. A lot has changed. But I know that the God my dad and I serve is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God will never leave me or forsake me. If I draw close to Him, He will draw close to me (and make Himself known to me).
Finally, even though we are now past the actual day of Easter, this week represents what I think is one of the most exciting times in the early church that often goes unmentioned. In the week that followed the actual resurrection event, we learn that Jesus spent time (40 days) walking and talking with His disciples. He encouraged them. He equipped them. He gave them their final marching orders to carry the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. Jesus regathered His friends and left them with the reminder that He will always be with them, to the very end of the age.
My dad is not coming back to get me the way Jesus promised He would come get His people. But I know where my dad is, and one day we will stand together before the throne of heaven and worship God together again! And the reason I know this is because Jesus is alive and He has overcome death and provides eternal life for all those who put their faith and trust in Him alone. This really isn’t about my dad, but his passing reminds me of what Jesus’ disciples must have felt like when He died, and the comfort He provided to them is the same comfort He provides to me: that one day death will be destroyed for good. We know this because death could not hold Him. Mark chapter 16 verse 6 says, “’Don’t be alarmed,’ [the angel] said, ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.’” Jesus is not on the cross. He is not in the tomb. He is alive and He is risen. Take heart friends that no matter what you have been through or are going through, Jesus has overcome the world and the grave, and in Him death is NO MORE!
Anyway, I was just thinking…