to finish running the race

Tonight I’m thinking about the finesse of passing over from one life into another.

About setting your foot down in the hard, hard rugged ground of earth and 24 hours later you no longer exist.

Well, some people say that you no longer exist.

I choose to believe that you’re in heaven, in the presence of the angels and the seraphim and the living God.

You fall at His feet when you get there, without words, your expectations and all that you have been taught about God not even coming close to what you are finally able to see.

And you can see.

Not just His backside – not just a little glimpse like Moses was able to see.

You see fully. All that you imagined about who God is does not compare to what you are finally able to see.

You tense up. For someone so grandiose! so glorious! How will He let you be with Him forever when you are nowhere deserving to be in His presence?

You are still lying on your face, on the ground, completely acknowledging your need of Him. You knew that you needed Him while you were on earth, but you have that complete sense now, that without Him you are nothing.

Then you start to think about how much you fall short and how much you sinned, even just the other day, and you panic. Because you don’t want this holy wonder to end. You don’t want to stop delighting in the One that you finally see and finally know. The One who has always fully known you, and now you are able to fully Know Him. You want to be with Him forever, but oh He knows everything about you still!

You have no choice but, quivering and trembling, to confess to Him everything about you. All that you ever done. And you think, “This is it. That was bliss, but now I am headed for abyss.” But you also confess that He was all that the Gospel writers have said that He is – all that your pastors and friends have said that He is – all that you’ve thought He is – but He is more.

He bends down and gently tells you to get up from the ground, puts His robe around you, and proclaims you His son or daughter. You are His forever, and you get to fully be with Him forever.

He looks you in the eye, and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant, with whom I am well pleased. Enter into My joy, and come be with me forever.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about death recently. Don’t put a suicide watch on me; it’s just that a pastor who founded a dear family of churches has been in hospice this past month after suffering an aneurysm and related complications, and actually passed away tonight. When I look at Buddy Hoffman’s life, I don’t see anything that doesn’t have God’s DNA imprinted. And as I’ve watched him wait to cross that finish line this past month, I’ve seen my perspective on death change a bit.

I used to think, “Okay. In heaven there’s no more pain. In heaven, I get to be with Jesus forever and I get to see all these people again and spend eternity with them praising Jesus. Who knows what we’ll actually be doing, though.”

What does it mean to long for heaven? You see, the final days of Buddy has been compared to someone crossing the finish line of a marathon. I believe that the encouragement of Christians cheering him on as they waited for him to cross the line could only have happened because of how he chose to invest the time that he was given on earth – how he lived. He lived in such a way that we couldn’t be more proud to send him off to this eternal victory, until we see him again.

Praise the Lord that He knows our days. I encourage all of us to live in a way that those we are impacted by us will long for heaven.

no more limping / no more pain / no more depression / fully loved / fully known / and completely we will see and know


Got to hear him preach on discipleship, his favorite topic, this past August at Grace Midtown

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