When I was young and single, I moved to Southern California to work at a church. I didn’t know many people in the area, but eventually I became friends with a couple of guys from the church, and the three of us rented a house together. Having a bachelor pad was fun—late nights, tons of jokes, and inappropriate pranks galore.
After a couple of years, one of my roommates got married and moved about 15 minutes away from our bachelor pad. I wasn’t surprised—he was the opposite of me in almost every way you could think: tall, good looking, lots of hair, in shape, tan, and he even worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration as an agent. Once he got married, eventually the other roommate and I went our separate ways.
About a year later, one evening near the end of October, I got one of those late-night phone calls that no one wants to receive. My roommate who had gotten married had been killed in a motorcycle accident. He had been riding his motorcycle down a residential street that evening when another driver made an illegal U-turn. My roommate’s motorcycle T-boned the car, throwing him from his bike and hurling him into eternity. It was horrific.
I arrived at the accident scene about 30 minutes after the call. Much of the site had been cleaned up already, but my friend’s bike was still in the middle of the street. It was absolutely destroyed. Friends who had gotten the same call started arriving. After a while, many of us went down the street to his house. His young widow was at home, understandably crying her eyes out. The setting of the house gave the false impression that he’d be right back. His drink was still on the counter, clothes were laid on the bed for tomorrow, the TV was on, and his book was in his chair. I half expected him to walk in the door, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
I sat in his house with 15 other people for about three hours. No one really said anything. There were lots of hugs and sobbing, but no conversations. Every person in that room was a follower of Jesus, so we prayed. We weren’t even sure what to pray, but we prayed.
A couple of weeks later, we had the memorial service and graveside observance. I still remember the graveside as if it were yesterday. I’ve attended many gravesides, but I’ve never seen as many people stay for the entire covering of the casket as did for my roommate’s. It was as if none of us wanted to leave, because if we left, we were submitting to the reality that he was gone from the earth.
Imagining the Last Day
Before I left the graveside, my eyes looked beyond the freeways of Hollywood and fixated on the hills behind Burbank. Clouds began forming behind the hills and started moving almost on top of them. I don’t know how clearly you can picture it, but it was a dramatic scene that touched my already emotional heart. I fervently asked Jesus to come back. But I knew there was a good chance that my timing wasn’t his.
I did, however, gain a perspective of hope that day. As I gazed at the hills, I was reminded that the power of God will be seen in supreme majesty when Jesus returns to bring justice, order, and redemption to this world. Closing my eyes, I remembered Paul’s description of Jesus’ return:
The trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor. 15:52–54)
Imagining what it would be like on the last day when my roommate would be brought into his new God-given body provided hope. I still have that hope because I believe my God is powerful enough to bring Jesus back from the dead and will do the same for those who follow him. As much as I loathe death, I know that it won’t have the last laugh. God’s greatness deserves our trust and willingness to align our lives with his power. The hope he gives extends beyond the circumstances of society and the inconsistency of our lives. Only he has the power to give us such hope.
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Source: Christianity Today