I was eight when my dad died.
He was forty-three years old.
I regret that I never really knew him.
He was a pastor.
I have memories, vague, but, oh, how I long to converse with him on how he thought, how he lived for Jesus.
On his tomb stone are inscribed these words from Paul, Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
As an 8-9-10-and up year old, I think I knew what that meant. I don’t remember anyone taking me aside and telling me.
As I father three boys, I learn more of my earthly father.
As I follow Jesus, I learn more of my earthly Father who is with my Heavenly Father.
I learn more of the meaning of those words.
For, one does not choose those words of Paul lightly. One certainly does not choose them for their tombstone, without understanding.
These words come to mind, “what ever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”
To live, is to follow Jesus. There are lots of other wide roads; none that lead to really living. None that can inspire us to say it is well with our soul, whatever the lot.
This helps me understand more fully what Paul was saying. What ever his lot, whether living, or dying, it was well with his soul.
To live, is to know Jesus in my failures, in my triumphs, in my sadness, in my joy, in my laughter, in my tears, in the easy times, in my difficulties. Jesus has something to say about each. Jesus is there with me in each. With Jesus, it is well.
The world defines “well” as “easy and comfortable.” That is not what what following Jesus is about.
To live is to journey with Jesus and others, so that, in our living, Jesus is made known to us. Collectively, with our brothers and sisters we can say it is well.
In our dying, a new journey begins. 1 Corinthians 13:12 “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
When I die, there will be no more doubt, no more questions. No more striving to follow, no more painful mistakes along the journey. It will be well, for my soul will be with Jesus.
The journey will take on a new characteristic. Instead of following in my Rabbi’s footsteps, I will be able to walk side by side with my Rabbi, my Jesus.
I anticipate the current journey as I follow Jesus. I long for the new journey with Jesus.
It will be well. It will be gain.