A couple of weeks ago, I purchased four sympathy cards for four different families who had lost loved ones.  There’s something a little unnerving and very sad about buying four sympathy cards in the same day.  As I stood there reading the verses in the cards, I wondered how those overly repeated words could possibly have any meaning at such a difficult time in these families’ lives.  Still, I hoped the thoughts and prayers being tucked inside the card would bring some form of comfort to their broken hearts.

That same week, we said goodbye to a family friend who was an elder in our church and first and foremost, a dear man of God.  Earlier this spring, I attended the memorial service for a fourteen year old girl.  Several friends have lost parents and other loved ones in recent months, while others are battling cancer and other illnesses.  And one thing I’ve noticed is that age doesn’t make a difference, ethnic background doesn’t play a part, and socioeconomic status is not a variable either.  No one is immune to death any more than they are immune to life.

Ecclesiastes 3:2 (NIV) says, there is “a time to be born and a time to die.”  As Christians, the Bible tells us that we do not have to grieve as those who have no hope (I Thessalonians 4:13 NIV).  Instead, we should rejoice because the end of our life on this earth is the beginning of something far greater.  For if we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, this world is just a waiting room, a temporary resting place, on our journey to our eternal home.  While some people may regard Earth as paradise, others do not find that it fits this description.

My dad often tells a profound story he heard on the radio broadcast of Dr. J. Allen Blair.  A man had lived for the Lord all of his life and was lying upon his death bed.  One of his friends sitting beside him said, “‘Farewell, brother.  I shall never see you again in the land of the living.’”  The dying man said, “‘You will see me again in the land of the living, for I am leaving the land of the dying.’”  You see, this man knew that this world is not a permanent dwelling place.  He knew there was something better waiting on the other side.

In the meantime, we need to enjoy life.  We need to embrace our family more, tell them we love them more, and spend time with them more.  We need to live more fully, laugh more heartily, and love more deeply.  I can tell you from experience, you will never regret an extra kind word spoken.  You will never be able to take too many photographs of someone dear to you.  And you will never feel like you spent too much time with someone you love.  Cherish life and never let a day go by without thanking God for another sunrise, another memory, another breath.

Live life like you are on a trip to somewhere you’ve never been but have always dreamed of going.  Don’t let the trials you face in life steal your joy.  The life we live down here may be full of heartache, sorrow, and despair.  But where we are going is full of jubilation and peace forevermore.  God’s Word tells us that we cannot comprehend what God has in store for us.  It is truly beyond the limits of our imagination.  And one day, when we have fought the good fight and finished our race, we will step through those gates of pearl and enter into the presence of the Lord God Almighty.  This, my friend, is when we will finally realize that we have been living in the land of the dying.  But we’re going to the land with no tears, no pain, and no death.  That’s Heaven.  That’s the Land of the Living.

In Christ’s Love,