A Beautiful Picture of Death

I’ve always loved the story about the doctor and the patient who was asking about death. Not that I obsess over death, but I was reminded again of this little story that sums up faith so very neatly. Maybe it will speak to you in your grieving.

“A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to
Leave the examination room and said,
‘Doctor, I am afraid to die.
Tell me what lies on the other side.’
Very quietly, the doctor said, ‘I don’t know..’
‘You don’t know? You’re, a God fearing person,
and don’t know what’s on the other side?’
The doctor was holding the handle of the door;
On the other side came a sound of scratching and whining,
And as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room
And leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.
Turning to the patient, the doctor said,
‘Did you notice my dog?
He’s never been in this room before.
He didn’t know what was inside.
He knew nothing except that his master was here,
And when the door opened, he sprang in without fear.
I know little of what is on the other side of death,
But I do know one thing…
I know my Master is there and that is enough’”

Heaven won’t be wonderful because of golden harps or white robes or streets of gold.

Heaven won’t be so desirable for mansions or biblical heroes or anything like that.

The best part of Heaven, the part I long for someday, is that Jesus, God made flesh, will be there.

And that will be enough.

Thoughts on Grief

“I don’t believe grief passes away. It has its time and place forever. More time is added to it; it becomes a story within a story” (W. Berry).

Don’t worry. No one I know has died lately.

I was just missing my old cat Lucy a bit today after seeing an old video of her and ran across this memory on Facebook.

How true it is.

Grief never passes away. You never completely get over the sadness.

I heard that grief and loss is somewhat like losing an arm or a leg. You don’t go back to the way you were before, but you can learn to live with a new normal.

Even though I haven’t been touched by grief lately, I know several who have. I also know that this life is fleeting, so grief is inevitable for any of us who haven’t completely closed off their hearts to love.

I also know that we serve a God who in Jesus is completely acquainted with grief. Isaiah called Him a Man of sorrows.

This same Jesus also took the sting out of grief and death when He burst out of the tomb on that Easter Sunday morning. Now those of us who belong to Jesus don’t have to grieve as those who have no hope. We have hope.

I still don’t know how it works with animals. I’d like to think there’s that rainbow bridge and I’ll see Lucy again one day. I do know that all the best parts of what we had will live on in my memory and what awaits in heaven will be far better than anything I could ever possibly imagine.

In the meantime, grief and loss are a part of life. Right now, I wish they were not. One day, I know for certain that they won’t be.


So Much Sadness

I found out today that a friend had to tell her son that his new puppy had died tragically. As I read the words, it was almost like someone punched me in the gut.

There’s so much sadness lately in the world. Too many people are having to say goodbye to loved ones, whether people or pets. Too many parents are having to bury their children. Too many children are watching their parents grow old and feeble.

Even the best moments are tinged with regret and sadness. It’s almost as if there was a longing inside of us that nothing in this world could satisfy. Many places and things and experiences come close but none of them quite fulfill the inner hunger.

The beauty of the gospel is that sadness is temporary. For us who believe, mourning may last for a night, but joy does come in the morning. We may go out weeping, but we will come back rejoicing.

There’s a lot of tragedy and evil in the world that I do not understand. I know that humanity and creation are fallen and the effects of that fall can be felt everywhere. What we see and hear and touch is not what was meant to be and is not what truly is or what will be.

That doesn’t discount the sadness, which at times is too deep for words and sometimes too deep for tears. The ultimate  hope of all who believe is that Jesus and the hope of the resurrection mean that sadness, loss, and death do not have the final word.

There’s nothing beautiful and noble that won’t be resurrected in the age to come and there’s no sorrow that can’t be redeemed and transformed into something glorious.

The hope of the gospel is that joy is victor and that Jesus has already overcome.


A Little Hint of Heaven

I don’t know why, but when the weather turns cooler I find myself getting more nostalgic for the people and places of my past. Today, I caught myself wishing I could revisit my grandparents’ old house on Alcy Road in Memphis.

Then it occurred to me.  Maybe I will. Not in the sense of actually driving back to Memphis and going to that neighborhood. Maybe in another way.

Perhaps all the places you and I loved back when and long for were glimpses of what heaven will be like. In The Chronicles of Narnia, when Peter, Lucy, Edmund, and the rest get to the New Narnia, one of them says that all the reason that he loved certain parts of the Old Narnia is that they reminded him of the new. The Old Narnia itself was a shadow and a copy of the New Narnia, the Real and True Narnia.

For me, I have a fondness for Union University. In the past, I had times when I even dreamed of going back and what it would be like. In this case, I really was able to go back, only to discover that the campus has so radically changed that I recognize very little of it. The people that made it so great weren’t there.

I see now that it wasn’t the actual brick-and-mortar buildings that I loved. It was the memories housed in those places — memories of people and events that shaped who I am now. The best memories were the tiniest glimpses into eternity, almost of heaven breaking through.

You can’t go back. Not really. You can never recreate a moment once it’s gone. You can cherish the memory of it and recognize that you saw a little bit of heaven in it. You can devote yourself to living every day to the fullest in pursuit of making new memories rather than living in the past and dwelling solely on old ones.


Darkness Defeated

I used to be absolutely terrified of the dark. As a child, I suffered though nightmares and anxiety and phobias, all associated with darkness. I even dreaded going to sleep at night because of my fears.

Eventually, I overcame those fears through the normal process of growing up. That and I would cram every stuffed animal I owned in the bed with me when I went to bed at night.

Lately it occurred to me that if a single candle can dispel all the darkness in any given room, then darkness is revealed to be powerless and impotent.

Jesus stated that He is the light of the world. He has already overcome darkness and everything associated with it. In fact, He has already overcome anything we could ever possibly be afraid of.

That’s a very comforting notion in a world where anxieties run rampant and fear rules the major part of the lives of the majority. In fact, both the news and social media are driven by fear.

Fear has no place in God’s economy. Perfect love casts out fear. The more one truly knows and understands how much he or she is loved, the less place there is for fear, because love and fear cannot co-exist within the same human heart. One displaces the other.

The ultimate destiny of darkness is defeat. There is no scenario where darkness ultimately overcomes the light. The only way darkness wins at all is in the absolute absence of light. The only way evil wins in this world is when good stays silent and hidden.

The final victory of light over dark is found in heaven where there is no need of sun or moon or stars, because Jesus is the light there. There is no more night or darkness or shadows because there is no place where the light is not present.

Here, we are the light of the world. May we not only find deliverance from our own anxieties about darkness but be instrumental in helping others overcome as well.



No More

It’s official. I’m over celebrities dying. I’m over cancer. So far, we’ve said goodbye to David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Dan Haggerty, and Rene Angelil (Celine Dion’s manager and husband). That’s four too many.

Not even three weeks into 2016, I’m already over the fact that all of us have a terminal illness– that all of us will eventually die.

I’m also over Nashville traffic. Someone sneezes on I-24 and there’s a backup for miles and miles. Seriously? Because my favorite thing in life is to creep down the interstate at a snail’s pace. At least I have good tunes to keep me company in the drudgery.

I was thinking that in heaven there will be lots of no mores.

No more death. No more loss. No more tears. No more sorrow. No more pain.

No more traffic. No more waking up before sunrise. No more coffee pots that are empty because someone else drank all the coffee before I got there.

Okay, that last one is sketchy.

The best part of Jesus’ resurrection is that all the lies and hurt will eventually become extinct. No form of meanness or pettiness or jealousy or any of those other deadly sins will exist anymore.

Only what was best and truest and purest will last.

I like to think that the best things in this life are shadows of what’s to come. They’re echoes of the glories yet to come. All your best moments and memories pale in comparison to what’s coming.

In the meantime, I’m afraid of what I’ll see every time I check the msn.com website. I don’t want to hear of anyone else dying (especially from cancer) for a very long time.

If you have any good news, send it my way. I’m due for something positive these days.

Until then, I’ll drift off to sleep with some good music and hope for the future.

The end.

I Will Be Telling You All the Time


“But between them and the foot of the sky there was something so white on the green grass that even with their eagles’ eyes they could hardly look at it. They came on and saw that it was a Lamb.

‘Come and have breakfast,’ said the Lamb in its sweet milky voice.

Then they noticed for the first time that there was a fire lit on the grass and fish roasting on it. They sat down and ate the fish, hungry now for the first time for many days. And it was the most delicious food they had ever tasted.

‘Please, Lamb,” said Lucy, “is this the way to Aslan’s country?’

‘Not for you,’ said the Lamb. ‘For you the door into Aslan’s country is from your own world.’

‘What!’ said Edmund. ‘Is there a way into Aslan’s country from our world too?’

‘There is a way into my country from all the worlds,’ said the Lamb; but as he spoke, his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his mane.

‘Oh, Aslan,’ said Lucy. ‘Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?’

‘I shall be telling you all the time,’ said Aslan. ‘But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder. And now come; I will open the door in the sky and send you to your own land.'” (C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).

This is one of my favorite moments from my favorite book in The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

I’m super glad that Aslan said to the children that He would be telling them all the time how to get into His country from their world.

I need constant reminding. I sometimes forget that this is not my home and that this is not how it will be forever.

All of live is just a heartbeat in heaven, according to Robin Williams’ character in What  Dreams May Come. All of history is just the title page and preface of what’s to come, when the real story begins.

Whatever I’ve imagined it to be like, it will be a thousand times better. All the comparisons I’ve made to the best moments of my life will fall far short of the reality, as far as shadows are from substance.


This Is It

“This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life” (1 John 5:12).

The life is in Jesus.

When I was a kid, I thought eternal life was simply living forever. Not that anyone overtly told me this, but it’s what my kid brain grasped when anybody talked about how whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. To me, that meant life that lasted a long time.

I think what I’m beginning to understand is that, while the forever part is right, there is more to it than that. It’s more than just quantity of life. It’s about a quality of life, too.

Eternal life is life with Jesus at the source. It’s where Jesus becomes my life. It’s where even my best days now are nothing compared to what my eternal future will be like.

As I’ve said before, I like to think of C.S. Lewis’ description of the New Narnia in his book, The Last Battle. It’s like everything you were always looking for but never knew it.

It’s like waking up on the first day of summer after school ends, knowing you have freedom up ahead. It’s like that first day of pure vacation bliss. Oh, and it doesn’t end in August or when you go back to work. It never ends.

It’s like that one book I read so long  ago. I can’t remember any of the detail, only that it was one of those books that I couldn’t put down and was sorry to see it end. Eternal life is the realization that this life now are like the title page and the introduction and the rest is the real beginning, a story where each chapter gets better than the last.



A Beautiful Prayer

“You are holy, Lord, the only God,
and Your deeds are wonderful.
You are strong.
You are great.
You are the Most High.
You are almighty.
You, holy Father, are
King of heaven and earth.
You are Three and One,
Lord God, all good.
You are Good, all Good, supreme Good,

Lord God, living and true.

You are love,
You are wisdom.
You are humility,
You are endurance.
You are rest,
You are peace.
You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and moderation.
You are all our riches,
And You suffice for us.
You are beauty.
You are gentleness.
You are our protector,
You are our guardian and defender.
You are courage.
You are our heaven and our hope.
You are our faith,
Our great consolation.
You are our eternal life,
Great and wonderful Lord,
God almighty,
Merciful Saviour.

Amen” (St Francis of Assisi).

Once again, I think this covers it. I found this through Daily Celtic Prayers and Inspirations on Facebook. See, there is some redeeming value to social media.

I’ve mentioned before that sometimes when you can’t find your own words to pray, it helps to borrow other words. Obviously, you start with the Psalms and other prayers from the Bible (including the Lord’s Prayer), but sometimes you can also pray the prayers of other men and women of God down through the centuries.

Here’s one more you can add to your list.