Thursday, December 18, 2014

Swallowed Up in Victory

I attended a funeral this week and it got me thinking about my grandfather on my mom's side. We spent so many weeks with him and my grandmother every year, but it was only after his death that I heard many of the stories about him and his life. How he was tireless and restless, how he ran several companies at once, and how involved he actually was in his faith.

That last part is what I remember most, however, because it was the first of the stories about his life that were really told to me in detail.

Funny how to get to the beginning we have to start at the end sometimes.

It was many years ago that my grandfather had a heart attack. He did not die immediately, but was in the hospital several days before the plug was finally pulled. He was awake and aware of what was going on around him, but couldn't speak very well. He knew his time had come, however, and the doctors remarked at how strange it was that he was completely (and I mean completely) ready to go.

So the time came, he said goodbye, and they turned off the machines keeping him alive. The doctors had told him he would fall asleep, and that would be the end. He had accepted this, and closed his eyes...

...only to wake up a couple minutes later. He looked around and, realizing he had not passed yet got an irritated look and shut his eyes again, tight, trying to will himself to the other side.

You see, my grandfather realized something that many Christians have a hard time understanding and accepting.

He realized that, for the Christian, death means that we are swallowed up in victory, and not defeat. He was ready to go. He wanted to meet the Savior.

He wasn't headed towards death.

He was headed towards life.

And life, true life, is what he received.

That is something we so often seem to forget. We forget that where we are, the world we live in, isn't real life. All we see, all we have here, everything good and wonderful and filling, is just a shadow of the real that we in Christ are headed towards. We cling to life and all things in it: our love, our things, our entertainment, our money, even our family, as though they were the reality of life. They are not.

My grandfather realized this and made it a part of who he was.

Seriously, who wakes up from slipping into death, gets angry about it, and forces themselves back to sleep?!

In 1 Cor. 15:54-55 Paul writes, "Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?"

Our mortal bodies will put on immortality. We will be changed. Maybe we should remind ourselves of that more often. Then, when the end comes, we too can be so ready to go that we cannot wait any more to be with the Father.

Because after all, we are headed towards life. Towards reality. Towards being swallowed up in victory.

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