The last few months I have shared some of what our friends have been walking through with the life of their precious little son, Elijah. He entered into the arms of Jesus on April 25th, and just yesterday many of us were able to gather together to celebrate this little boy’s life and testimony.
This precious child’s life and story serve as a powerful reminder to all of us of what really matters. His witness underscores some vitally true and desperately important things. His life here on earth was not as long as any of us would have wished, especially his parents, sisters, grandparents, and extended family. We would all have loved to watch him grow and learn and become a man. But his life calls us to remember that this life is not all there is - there is something more, something higher, something so much better. There is so much more to his story, and to ours.
You see, we live in a terribly broken world. It can be so painful and difficult to understand things like what our good, godly friends are walking through right now. They certainly have done nothing to cause or deserve such a devastating turn in life. Looking at what happens in our own lives and all around us each day is so difficult to do if we look outside of the lens of our faith in Christ. Nothing seems "fair" or makes sense if we leave God out of the picture. But when we keep God at the center of our view, we remember that there is always so much more to the story.
Though many people and even entire cultures deny it, the Biblical account of this world is true. Life and death are real, God is real, more real than we can even understand; His adversary is also real. The effects of the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden are far-reaching; death entered the picture and the enemy thought he had successfully robbed God of His children forever. But God's forethought is greater than any wicked scheme of the enemy. Every person on earth is born with a sinful nature, but also a God-given capacity to choose. With God's help the latter actually can overcome the former - the fairy tales got this right when the fairy godmothers granted Sleeping Beauty the power to come out of her deep death-sleep with the help of the prince.
Still, God’s wicked adversary is now the prince of this world, and everything in creation is corrupted by rebellion and death. Every day, there are reminders that the consequences of sin are real and cause terrible damage to whatever and whomever is touched. We are frequently faced with situations that leave us feeling that this is not the way things are supposed to be. I am quite sure that many of you reading this are in some way reeling from the effects of sin in life - perhaps someone else’s, perhaps your own, perhaps a complicated mix of the two, perhaps even just the ravaging and devastating consequences of living in a corrupted world. At one time or another, all of us will be. None of us, no matter how deeply we lean into our relationship with Jesus, are going to remain untouched by the effects of the fall of mankind on this side of Heaven.
Everyone, everywhere is left to wade through a lot of conflicting pain, anger, recrimination, unforgiveness, and dissonant noise, day in and day out, year after year. This is the world we live in - Galatians 5:19-21 sums it up nicely, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
This is a foundational truth of our faith: we are all sinners in great need of a Savior. We all hurt others and get hurt by others, and only Jesus can break our bondage to this sinful cycle. This is the entire point of the Christian worldview.
What a refreshing reminder Elijah’s life has been of the reality and wonder of our great Savior! God is not unaware of our situation. He knows of our great need for help. He is well aware of the trouble and pain caused by the effects of the fall. He is well aware of the grief and suffering of His people, and what a comfort it is to know that Jesus grieves right along with us (John 11:33-35.) God is not far off and indifferent to our pain and suffering. He is near, present, and intimately involved. He is with us in every situation. We all felt Him with us yesterday as we gathered to worship God and celebrate a precious life.
Long before any of us were here, God imagined us and dreamed of what our lives could become. The Bible teaches that He knit each of us together in our mothers' wombs, putting within each of us His own beautiful image. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have enjoyed perfect unity and fellowship for time without beginning or end, and certainly did not need us for company or to relieve boredom. God wanted us, and made us so that we could enjoy perfect fellowship with Himself and one another forever.
This brings us to a second foundational truth of our faith: Jesus has given His life so that we can be with God forever.
Again, the powerful forethought of God is much greater than any wicked scheme of the enemy. Just a few weeks ago we celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, who by His blood and through His Spirit has set us free from the law of sin and death. The enemy thought he had defeated God forever through the cross. I love to think of the moment that wicked creature realized his great, fatal mistake. We can celebrate the reality of Christ's victory every day, and we can look forward to all that is to come. This present world is not all there is; we who are in Christ do not grieve like people with no hope. There is so much more to the story!
Our dear friend Elijah is not gone; he lives on, with God forever. The place that he has gone is the beautiful place we all hope to be one day; the glorious place where no one will ever say or think, “this is not the way things are supposed to be.” The very last chapters of the Bible describe it, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Praise God! I am so grateful for Elijah’s life and testimony. His life reminds us all that God is so good, and that we can trust Him implicitly. Moving forward, let's keep the lessons of this precious boy's life in our hearts. Our family, friends, and neighbors need to see the strength, forgiveness, and love that real life in Christ makes possible.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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