‘We’ve seen many marvellous things in this life but the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard what heaven is going to be like. Heaven is going to be a wonderful place. When we die, we are present with the Lord straightaway; absent from the body.’ [John Price]
On Friday, I took a trip I had wanted to do for a long time by myself: to visit the grave of my late mentor John Price, who was a real father in the Christian faith to me. And his dear wife Jill, who was Godmother to one of my daughters. I’ve been there before, but had not seen the final headstone since Jill died four years ago. And it was a special time for me.
I stood by the stone monument (beautifully crafted) and looked at the grass: knowing that something of John and Jill remained there. To be honest, I struggled to relate my physical surroundings to the lovely couple that I had known so well. I have wonderful memories, from many years ago, of standing with John and Jill in their lounge, the three of us holding hands and praying with joy to Jesus. There was such warmth between us, with the Holy Spirit. And now it was just me, a headstone and some grass. Weird, eh? Next to them was the poignant grave of a little girl and, on the other side, an older man. All of them strangers and all of them buried in close proximity.
“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.” [Jesus Christ]
Where do we find hope in those times of remembrance? ‘Hope’ was actually the key word for me that day, although I didn’t realise it at first. As I walked to the grave (I had to look at a hundred headstones before I found it!) I had this Bible verse in my head: ‘We grieve, but not like those without hope’. And then, when I got to the headstone, I read this beneath John’s name: ‘In Christ alone, my hope is found’.
I am sure many of us wish our dead loved ones would have a ‘Lazarus ’moment and rise up out of the grave right now. That event, when Jesus brought a man back from the dead, was actually a foretaste of the future. The Bible says: ‘With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day’. In God’s time, He will raise His children out of the grave, just as He did with Lazarus.
I went for a walk today, in a woodland near a beach, and asked the Lord for encouragement. He whispered this to me: –
‘Hope does not disappoint…’
Father God, Thank you for hope. Hope in your love. Hope in your power. Hope in your victory. You understand my grief because you wept for Lazarus. I belong to you and I do trust that there is a future beyond the indifferent grass of a silent grave. The joy of the Lord is my strength. You are my shield. In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.
**I met John & Jill more than 20 years ago during my discipleship journey called DNA. It was an amazing church programme. Click this link to found out more (no, I don’t get paid for recommending it): Discover DNA.
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