After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. — 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18
Yesterday, I went with my mother to visit Pop's grave. Pop was Mama's daddy and thus my grandfather. Pop died three years ago, and Mama faithfully puts new flowers on his grave. She took his death particularly hard, and she's having just as hard of a time with her sister's death (my aunt who died a few weeks ago). A few words about Pop before I go into the main part of today's post. Pop was a giving and godly man. He was a faithful churchgoer and deacon until he was no longer able to attend church because of his failing eyesight, growing deafness, and his inability to walk very far. I have never heard anyone say a bad word against Pop, and I doubt I ever will. I also never heard Pop speak ill of anyone. There was truly nothing anyone could say against him. There are very few genuinely good men in this world, but Pop was one of them.
While we were at his gravesite, Mama remarked, "I won't tell him that [my sister] died. I'm sure he already knows." To which I remarked that they were together in heaven. Mama said, "No, they are not. They won't be together in heaven until the Judgement Day." And she is right, as the song below says:
When we all get to Heaven,What a day of rejoicing that will be!When we all see Jesus,We'll sing and shout the victory!
When we die we don't automatically got to heaven or hell (Yes, I know Catholics believe there is a Purgatory in between). The Bible tells us that we will all go to heaven on the Day of Judgement, but many people believe that this occurs at the moment of death. Since I was raised in the churches of Christ, I go strictly by what the Bible says and have always been taught that it is on the Day of Judgement when we will all be together again. In my belief, and I really have nothing to back this up, but I believe that we do not know from the time of our death until we reach the Day of Judgement that any time has passed. I believe that the next thing we will know after death is that as we are judged on that day that our Lord will either say "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness." (Matthew 7:23) Or, as I hope and believe He will say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master." (Matthew 25:21)
So as I was thinking on this brief conversation I had with my mother, I thought of beloved friends and family members who have gone on before us, and i was suddenly singing the song below in my head. It has long been one of my favorites, because I love the message it gives.
When We All Get to HeavenSing the wondrous love of Jesus,Sing His mercy and His grace.In the mansions bright and blessèdHe'll prepare for us a place.When we all get to Heaven,What a day of rejoicing that will be!When we all see Jesus,We'll sing and shout the victory!While we walk the pilgrim pathway,Clouds will overspread the sky;But when traveling days are over,Not a shadow, not a sigh.When we all get to Heaven,What a day of rejoicing that will be!When we all see Jesus,We'll sing and shout the victory!Let us then be true and faithful,Trusting, serving every day;Just one glimpse of Him in gloryWill the toils of life repay.When we all get to Heaven,What a day of rejoicing that will be!When we all see Jesus,We'll sing and shout the victory!Onward to the prize before us!Soon His beauty we'll behold;Soon the pearly gates will open;We shall tread the streets of gold.When we all get to Heaven,What a day of rejoicing that will be!When we all see Jesus,We'll sing and shout the victory!
The author of this song, Eliza Edmunds Hewitt, was a school teacher in Philadelphia and a Christian lay worker who was deeply devoted to the Sunday school movement. Like many of the other gospel song writers during the latter half of the nineteenth century, Eliza's goal in writing her songs was to reach children and teach them the basic truths of the gospel. She dedicated this particular song to her own Sunday school class in Philadelphia. Though an invalid for much of her life, Eliza did not become bitter but devoted her life to God. I think we can all read the words of this beautiful song and rejoice that one day we will see Jesus, and on that day, we will shout the victory when we are told "Well done, good and faithful servant," and we enter through the pearly gates to the place He has prepared for us.
The picture above is called "Judgement Day" and was created specifically for the 2009 GLAAD Art Auction by Troy Dunham of troyboydesign and the photographer Jeff Eason of Wilsonmodels and features many of New York's finest assets in a modern day re-interpretation of the classic Paul Rubens painting "The Last Judgement" (seen below).