One was a young woman with a full life ahead of her. She had cancer and suffered for almost a year with the disease before God took her home. She left behind a husband and young child, a child who unfortunately will probably never remember his mother. She was a close friend and family member to several friends of mine, who had been posting her husband's blog of their struggles. I because more familiar with her story and mourned for their loss as I read more about their journey.
The other was a man who lived a full life. He left behind children and numerous grandchildren, even a great-grandchild. He was one who many other men respected and admired. His life had been full of memories with family and friends.
Very different lives and circumstances, but one thing was the same. They both crossed into Heaven on the same day.
This year there have been two songs about Heaven that have really stuck with me. And both crossed my mind when dealing with these two deaths: "Celebrate Me Home" by the Perrys and "On the Banks of the Promised Land" by Karen Peck & New River.
That separates the two worlds that I love,
Torn between my precious friends and my family
and the place of peace that's waiting up above,
Hold my hand and stay there by my side.
And when I finally step into the tide,
Celebrate me home!
Celebrate me there.
Celebrate me in that land of wonder where nothing can compare.
Celebrate me in that place
Celebrate me saved by grace
Don't just sit and weep because I'm gone
Celebrate me home."
I love these lyrics. You've probably often heard, as I have, that for children of God a funeral service should be a celebration. This song is all about celebrating someone who has now gone onto Heaven. As much as we love this world and our family and friends, we know that Heaven is going to be better than we can imagine. We are torn between the two worlds. I love how the lyrics encourage those left behind not to sit and weep but to celebrate.
Jesus knows and he understands
They'll be washed away as I cross that stream
To the banks of the promised land.
"Hallelujah what a morning
When I reach for that nail-scarred hand,
And I'm lead from grace to glory
On the banks of the promised land."
The second verse is so reassuring. In both of these cases, sickness occurred before their deaths. Jesus knew all about that and wanted them to be free from the hurting, pain and suffering they were experiencing on earth.
I also love the line in the chorus where we'll be lead from grace to glory. In this world, we live through God's grace, but in Heaven we'll be in the presence of His glory. I can only imagine them reaching for Christ's nail-scarred hand as they reached the promised land.
Heaven is going to be a beautiful place, and both of these songs remind us that as children of God we're going to be much better off there than we are here.