My Favorite Thing

But we don’t want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you don’t grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so those who have fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we tell you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left to the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God’s trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore comfort one another with these words. -1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (WEB)

A few months ago, I received an email notifying me of Bettye’s death. Although I didn’t make it to the memorial service, I listened to a recording of the service and the words her daughter-in-law Bethany had written regarding a discussion with her 7-year-old daughter, Samantha.

I pictured Samantha telling her mother, a couple of days after Bettye’s death, that it would be terrible to live to infinity and never die. When Bethany asked why, Samantha replied, “Well, for one thing, you would get really, really old, and that would be no fun at all. And you would get really small and ugly, and then all your friends and family would die, and you’d be all alone and really lonely. And you’d never get to have fun and go live with God in heaven.” When her mother asked if she thought it would be a lot of fun to live with God, Samantha replied, “Yes, I think it will be my favorite thing to live with God in heaven.”[1]

It is this understanding of death, expressed by a child, that enables Christians to sing songs of joy as a loved one dies, to praise and thank God for his goodness and grace as he takes their loved one home, and to rejoice in a celebration of the person’s life, rather than sinking into a pit of despair at the prospect of never seeing the person again. It is this understanding of death that enables Christians to say with the Apostle Paul, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21, WEB).

If you should be present right before I die, make sure I hear these words from the old spiritual “Give Me Jesus”:

When I come to die, oh, and when I come to die,
And when I come to die, give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus, give me Jesus.
You can have all this world, but give me Jesus.

When you hear of my death, just remember that “it will be my favorite thing to live with God in heaven.”

What about you? What will be your favorite thing?

[1] Used by permission.

Copyright © 2006, Star M. Ferdinand. All Rights Reserved.

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