Tag: Heaven

Death does not take a vacation!

George Whittenby George Whitten

James 4:13-14 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

Two Fridays ago, my family was tragically stunned when my younger brother, Gary, was found dead at his condominium in Baltimore County. He apparently died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 46. Last Thursday was his funeral at which I gave the eulogy. In my own state of shock I was struck by the reality which I shared with those present, “Death, especially when sudden and unexpected, forces disruption upon us, rudely interrupts our carefully laid out plans, and faces us with its irrevocable power.

Our family’s lives have been turned upside down and inside out. Our scheduled return to Israel last Wednesday has been indefinitely postponed (probably for months) as my parents who are deaf and approaching their 80s require my help as the sole surviving son to close out my brother’s affairs, and help them to rearrange their own lives. The necessity of recognizing and responding to the massive responsibility which inevitably lands on the survivors now dawns upon us day after day, the aftermath of a death in the family. And all this as the grief and shock settle upon our souls.

Yet apart from the shock, sorrow, and disruption I cannot help but be reminded of another aspect of death, one which the Lord Yeshua emphasized to us His disciples, i.e that death may also bring forth life. The Gospel of John quotes Yeshua, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.” This amazing truth applies to me, and to all who belong to the Savior, and while I may be perplexed and even baffled by His ways, I remain confident that “All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.” My brother’s sudden, unexpected death powerfully calls me to the acute awareness of my own life, and its constant opportunities for the Lord which I need to seize…. every moment!

The death of my younger brother has provoked a powerful awareness of how precious is the short time we’ve been given. Why or how it seems so natural to feel that we have all the time in the world, God only knows… yet it is a foolish and possibly dangerous presumption! The truth is, our judgment before the Lord is imminent, and as James says above, may not be more than a day away. Reckoning carefully the important issues of our lives; reconciliation, forgiveness, holiness, loving care, service, hospitality, worship, prayer etc. will keep us from wasting the astoundingly precious moments we’ve been given…given to prepare for an eternal reward as the Scripture says over and over again that God will reward every man according to his deeds.

by George Whitten

Your reward is before you!

George Whittenby George Whitten

Isaiah 40:10 Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, And His arm (z’roah in Hebrew) shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.

Revelation 22:12“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”

Isaiah tells us that the LORD’S Arm shall rule for Him and that He is coming with reward — and a similar passage in Revelation declares that the Lord Yeshua (Jesus) is coming to reward His saints.

We live this earthly life recognizing that we are “strangers and pilgrims” [Hebrews 11:13] in this world — but are working now in full expectation of a heavenly future. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world!”

We know we were made for another world, where the treasure we have stored while working here will neither rust nor corrode, nor be stolen. If you’re looking for a pat on the back now [not that praises shouldn’t be given or received], you’ve missed the point of ministry.

This reminds me of a story. There was a husband and wife who served many years in the ministry as missionaries in a far away land. As they returned to the States, the arriving ship was greeted by a brass band. Their initial thought was that this was an arranged greeting to honor them — but soon discovered that a dignitary was also on the ship. They collected their luggage and booked a cheap motel room. While sitting on the bed, the husband started to cry and said, “We’ve served God for many years. We’ve got no money, no house, and when we’ve returned home, there’s not even anyone to meet us!” His wife looked at him and said, “Hon, we’re not home yet!”

We’re not home yet! Don’t believe for a minute that your work in this world is going unseen in Heaven. “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and the love which ye showed toward his name, in that ye ministered unto the saints, and still do minister.” [Hebrews 6:10] Let’s be earnestly seeking His praise that when we see Him face to face, He may say to all of us, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!” A true homecoming…and a true reward!

Your family in the Lord with much agape love

by George Whitten