After I wrote the post about Pastor Bob Jennings, I went for a walk. I couldn’t shake the reality of Bob and his son or sons meeting together to craft Bob’s casket, “After some solemn tears together, began building the casket, and finished with some joy.” I was left pondering and thinking about the gathering of men (grandsons?) working with their father in building their dad’s final, earthly resting place, his casket.
Have you ever heard of such a thing? Of family members coming together with the dying loved one and construct the dying loved one’s casket together?
As I walked and thought, the dreariness of the afternoon’s gray sky and occasional raindrop prompted and stimulated further thought.
Dying is ominous; it is mysterious. Before my cancer, dying was never a thought because, naturally, death was decades away! Then being diagnosed with a cancer that has no cure, Death stood right in front of me, staring me down. My response? This can’t possibly be! My children haven’t married yet, let alone, I don’t have any grandkids! There was the initial fear but then my fight to live began. Death was pushed down and away from me – I pushed it down and away from me.
However, when it was time for my autologous stem cell transplant, dying reared its head again and this time I had to face it down and deal with it; I was in such denial. A chaplain who had befriended me helped me see and realize the reality of such a risky procedure, my transplant. She actually encouraged me to write something out to my loved ones. I wrote kind of a bequeathing note to my family as I wanted each member to have something special from me. I also wrote what songs I would like to be remembered by. I put the note in a sealed envelope and gave it to her to hold on to, just in case, maybe, anything should happen to me.
Before my transplant, I came home to Montana. We celebrated my 50th birthday with the family. It was a joyous time, but kind of foreboding for me, too. As the family said good-bye, and as I said good-bye to my nieces and nephews, I broke down and cried. Would I see them again?
Well, it is obvious that I came through my transplant. When I was released from the hospital the chaplain returned my unopened envelope. It was an odd thing to hold knowing that the end of my life requests were in that envelope – that I actually had to write something like that.
So that is my experience with the possibility of dying and that brings me back to Pastor Jennings. I wrote a bequeathing note, he built his casket. What a contrast! What a reality that death is near.
But what do we read in Bob’s last entry? Sadness and sorrow, yes. But he writes assuring us of his hope:
“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). The Great High Priest has prayed that His elect be with Him. What can we do or say, but bow to His sovereignty, and that, gladly? Destined for glory with the Lord Jesus! I put my hands over my face for such marvelous, matchless, infinite grace.”
Read that again! “Destined for glory with the Lord Jesus! I put my hands over my face for such marvelous, matchless, infinite grace.” What a perspective! This man is humbled by the prospect of soon seeing the glory of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! He doesn’t write about anger at losing his life to cancer, disappointment that his life is nearly over nor the fear of death itself. He writes about the nearness of soon seeing the glory of the Lord!
I realized while walking and thinking about Pastor Jennings and his actions surrounding the finality of his life, writing such statements as above and building his own casket with his sons (I am assuming they are his sons, if not, then possibly a son and grandsons), that this man is certain of who Jesus Christ is and secure in what Jesus Christ did; Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners and because of Christ’s sacrificial death, everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.
Because of Bob’s certain belief in Jesus Christ, Bob is secure in his welcome to his eternal home. Bob is secure and he need not fear dying and death. Stunning! Am I this secure in my faith that I would not fear dying but welcome it in that I was homeward bound to live eternally in the presence of the glory of the Lord?
Pastor Jennings’ last entry, “One More Trip” (click here), rocked my world and caused me to question my security in Jesus Christ; am I certain in who He says He is and secure in what He did for me?
What about you? Are you certain of who Jesus says He is and are you secure in what He did for you? Could you (could I) with such humility and awe “bow to His sovereignty, and that, gladly?” Could you (could I) say “Destined for glory with the Lord Jesus!” with such conviction and certainty?
“Without Christ, all would be very dark. With Him, all is filled with hope – the resurrection, heaven, sinlessness, 2nd coming, the presence of Christ who so loved even me. There will be one more trip for the Christian.”
Yes, there is one more trip for the Christian.