by Joanie Butman
While at mass with my parents last weekend, I realized that living in God’s Waiting Room DOES make you think about your impending ‘retirement.’ It’s impossible to avoid it. When we got to the part of the mass where prayers are offered for the recently deceased, I almost dozed off as the list was so long. And the list for the sick was even lengthier. Following the recitation of the names, my father, in one of his infamous ‘whispers’ exclaimed, “Must’ve been a plague!” And he was right. Life itself is the plague to which we’ll all succumb at some point.
There are other reminders down here as well. JC’s Daily Bread at the farmers market boasts, “A Taste of Heaven Without the Wait.” Not surprisingly, there’s always a crowd surrounding his stall. The local funeral home also knows their audience well as they promote their services hosting ‘Happy Hours’ at their establishment. You can drink for free while planning your own going away party.
Death doesn’t have to be morose. As Billy Graham often stated, “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” That’s exactly what I choose to believe – just moving to a better neighborhood. Goodbyes are always sad for those left behind but knowing you will see them again takes the sting out of death, which is exactly what Christ accomplished on the cross and what we’ll be celebrating on Easter.
Even my father-in-law, a staunch atheist, softened as he approached the end. He often joked about being stuck in the waiting room too long. Over the years he was determined to convince me I was an idiot to believe in God. During one such conversation I explained to him, “If you’re right and there’s nothing after death, I’m no worse off than you. However, if I’m right and there is life after death, you got some ‘splainin to do.” Not one to ever admit defeat, it was uncharacteristic for him to call me to assure me that he did indeed have a faith before he died. I was touched that it was important to him to let me know. It was the last conversation I had with him. At 98 perhaps his longevity was due to good genes or maybe God was simply waiting for him to come around. Who knows? Though I’m confident in Heaven I’ll finally be cured of my need to have the last word, I still look forward to seeing Paul and enjoying my ‘told you so’ moment as we embrace.
The plague of life will take us all at some point. It might behoove you to choose to start thinking about your ‘retirement’ now. I’m not suggesting you attend Happy Hour at your local funeral home, but you can choose to have a taste of Heaven right now – and I don’t mean a slice of JC’s bread. When you choose to become a believer, your eternal life with Christ begins. His sacrifice on our behalf affords us the privilege of living to glorify God rather than striving for our own salvation. How blessed are we that we don’t have to wait to die to experience eternal life? In John 17:3 Christ prays, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” According to Christ’s definition, the focus of eternal life is not on our future, but on our current standing in Christ.* When you choose to put your faith in Christ, it changes how you choose to live your life right here right now. It doesn't change the length of your life - just the quality of it.