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STUDY SERIES:    Going Home                                                                         SESSION No. 6

BREAKING CAMP

INTRODUCTION:

This will be the final session in this series of reflections on death and dying as the precursor to departing from this life to the life beyond.

I recall attending my dad's funeral and as we drove through the gates of the crematorium we could see right down the driveway into the chapel. I could even see the 'hole' into which the casket would go at the close of the service. It struck me that I was looking at a kind of a funnel!!  Sooner or later, every one of us will pass into that funnel. It is inevitable. It is irresistible. But the morbidity of such an observation is more than neutralized by the emphasis that has stirred in my heart over the course of these study sessions.

I warm very much to the insights shared with us by the Apostle Paul and the imagery that helps me to better understand the nature of the death event.

"For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down — when we die and leave these bodies — we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands". (2 Cor 5:1-2 NLT).

The imagery of our bodies being like a tent in which we live as compared with our heavenly bodies being like an eternal house or dwelling is very inspiring to me. A tent is a temporary dwelling which is subject to wear and tear. It was never meant to be permanent (unless you are a Bedouin, I guess!!) Even then, no tent lasts forever. Tents fray around the edges and are easily damaged. Just like our bodies, tents show signs of ageing - creasing, discolouration etc.

With the ageing process come physical limitations. We are more prone to damage and disease and eventually this old body breathes its last, worn out and, like a tent, it is taken down for the last time and put away, never to be used again.

On the other hand, an eternal building/house is designed as permanent accommodation. This is why Paul compares the temporary nature of our lives here with the permanent nature of our lives there.

"That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever. (2 Cor 4:16-18 NLT)

The Apostle Peter holds the same understanding of death

"So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. (2 Peter 1:12-15 NIV)

There is another image that Paul employs to provide us with a mental picture of the nature of death.

  "......the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Tim 4:6-8 NIV)

It's the word "departure" that would generate a different image for Paul's readers. It's the image of a boat pulling up anchor or casting off from the wharf.

I suppose that there is much more that could be explored on this subject but I have found this exercise valuable. I can't say that I have made any dramatic shift but it has been very worthwhile to be reminded of these truths the experience of which lies in the future.

 

CONCLUSION:

In the light of these 6 sessions, I’d encourage you to now go back to the very first page you read at the beginning – the Introduction headed “You need to read this first”.

I suggest this because I think you will read it through eyes that are more informed as to why I have felt the need to share these truths with you.

But more importantly than that, I want to draw your attention to something that the Lord Jesus said to His disciples.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:1-6 (NLT)
 

 

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