The Upper Room devotional reflection for Friday, January 13, 2023, was written Nancy J. Clark.
17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world."
John 11:17-27 NRSV
My husband was discouraged and depressed. After treating him for breathing problems for several months, the doctors still could not make a diagnosis and weren’t sure what the future held for him. As a pastor, my husband had dedicated his life to serving others and walking with them through their dark valleys. Now he seemed lost and confused. I struggled to find ways to comfort him. But even reminiscing about family camping adventures we enjoyed over the years brought only temporary relief.
One day, not long before he died, I walked into his hospital room and felt a peace not of this world. With a faint smile on his face, my husband turned to me and asked, “Are you ready for the next great adventure?” He had accepted the reality of eternal life promised by Jesus when he said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believers in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” I now know in my heart what comfort that promise can give to those who struggle with the reality of their own approaching death, as well as to those left behind. The death of our earthly bodies is not the end. When we accept Jesus as our savior, a whole new great adventure awaits.
None of us like or want to think about our death. Some believe talking about it and planning for it is akin to hastening its arrival. I can attest to the struggle and challenge some families face attempting to gather funds to pay for funeral arrangements. I can equally attest to the blessing, comfort, and peace that other families experience when their loved ones have preplanned for their funeral arrangements.
As people of faith, we have a promise of eternal life when we have spent our lives in reverent devotion to Jesus. Death then is not the end, but only a beginning of, as Nancy’s reflection states, “the next great adventure.” None of us know when our last day may be, but we do have an opportunity each day to grow in grace, share the love of Christ with others, and to let our lights shine. I encourage you not only to take time to plan and talk to your loved ones about your final arrangements. But also, to take advantage of each day, determined to bring more joy into the world.
Dear Lord, thank you for your promise that we will remain with you even after our earthly life is over. Amen.
-- Nancy J. Clark