That unyielding chain which binds mortals to the present.
The past lingers tantalizingly just outside our grasp. Memories, pleasant or otherwise, are all that is left. The future rises like a dark mist before us. Uncertain. Unknown. Truly, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
Yet those who have gone on before urge us on to a higher calling. One not bound so cruelly by Time’s steely grasp. Down through the dusty halls of ages past we hear them call, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God…”
Some have not the knowledge of God. Eternal souls trapped in a mortal shell of sinful flesh while the incessant hand sweeps across the clock of life. “…For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Our vapor–and theirs–will soon be spent. Eternity is at stake. So, for centuries, Christians have bade their families tearful goodbyes, and taken the Gospel around the world.
For those who stay, there is a different “sorrow.” All of the missed birthday parties. All of the family gatherings with an empty place at the table. The quiet moment of a once-shared memory. We who send our loved ones away know a quiet, nagging fear. Weeks pass. Lines of communication are silent. Then the phone rings, accompanied by a moment of strange dread–is all still well? Yet the sacrifice of time and distance for the sake of the Gospel seem so petty when placed next to eternity.
Some day, that awful news will come. Not of death itself, but of our present grief and loss. Our loved one’s vapor will have vanished. But it is not in vain if it is spent to the furtherance of the Gospel.
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
I Corinthians 15:51-58