“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12, NKJV)
When the reality of Heaven finds its wonderful truths into our hearts, minds, and lives … when it begins to weigh heavy on our hearts, we will live differently. It then becomes a true treasure that we must guard with our entire being not to turn loose of by turning to our own sinful and selfish ways. True joy means nurturing a deep longing for God.
But we must come to realize that we are all sinners and the only thing that can keep us from experiencing this “joy of the Lord” in the present and finally forever with the accompanying joy of Heaven is sin … our sin! (Romans 3:23; 6:23; 8:31-39)
Allow me to share with you a very personal experience that occurred in my life this past week … an experience … and opportunity really … a moment in time that will forever be considered a treasure to never allow to fade away.
I went to visit one of our members this past week who has battled cancer for some time and his days were rapidly dwindling down into single digits.
I’ve only had the privilege of knowing and coming to deeply love this elderly child of God for a relatively short time. Blessed with the opportunity extended by his family, I sat down in a chair next to him laying partially back in his recliner.
And we talked about life and events in our lives as if we had been good friends for many years. And we also talked even more about the God we both love and serve … about His patience with each one of us in life and the joy of being forgiven!
And we talked about the presence and the sovereignty of God and the assurance of His involvement in each of our lives through His divine providence.
We both agree that the question of “If God is working in our lives” should be rephrased to emphasize that indeed, He is … we don’t know just how much … but does it really matter?
Is it not reassuring enough to know that He is? (Hebrews 13:5,6; 1 Peter 5:7)
We talked about spiritual thoughts and truths … the culmination finding itself in the anticipation of eternity and being with the Lord and all the saints of old. We both cried … and I asked him a couple of questions before it was time for me to say goodbye, perhaps for the last time.
Pausing for a moment … what would you ask someone who knew death was waiting at the door for the moment God’s will would be accomplished? Perhaps, each of us needs to give thought to this question and actually look into our own hearts and lives for the answer.
I asked him if everything was good in his life as far as being prepared to meet the Lord. He assured me he had cleared every possible account he could think of and asked the Lord to forgive those he could not remember or know of!
With tears rolling down his cheeks … obviously in pain … straining hard to gain his breath … I then asked him the question … You’re ready to go, aren’t you? For a few moments, he was not able to speak.
But then … clearing his throat … looking me straight in the eyes … it was very clear … he said, “Yes, yes I am!”
Other family members were arriving … hard choices and decisions were to be discussed in a family meeting. It was past time for me to leave, neither one of us really wanting to end the conversation … to say our goodbyes.
I told him how much I loved him and cared for him. And I told him if we don’t see each other in this life, it would be my prayer that we would in the next life. I hugged him as best I could … I kissed him on his forehead. Spoke to all of the family … offered words of encouragement and hope and took a quick glance back at the one I had come to see. He was looking my way … tears were running down his face. And it was all I could muster as I turned toward the door when I said, “See you later!”
Yes, joy is one of the most prominent themes appearing throughout the entirety of God’s revealed will, His Book! From before the beginning of time as we know it, God had a plan for all of mankind … to bring each of us lasting joy and peace.
Sadly, not everyone desires or is willing to accept the terms God has revealed in order to have this most precious of gifts. (Hebrews 5:8,9)
We have very good reason to be joyful … to be full of joy … and to continue bearing “the fruit of joy” since “the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy.” (Psalm 68:3) and our worship songs should “tell of his deeds in songs of joy” (Psalm 107:22)!
A Personal Note: My good brother in Christ and friend passed away within 36 hours of our time together! Reality! As his son posted upon his death, “He was a faithful man who loved God and his Savior Jesus, he was a fisherman, and a fisher of men.”
Bill Fairchild, Jr.