My father died in his sleep early in the morning on Nov. 9. I was not present then, because he lived in Michigan. We left for Michigan the next morning. His funeral was on the following Tuesday. All six children, many of the grandchildren and even a few great grandchildren were present. At the cemetery, Dad was given an honor guard ceremony by the Kent County Honor Guard. This included a 21 gun salute and taps. I was given the flag that was on his casket.
What does this have to do with religion? Everything! Psalm 27:4 says, “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” And Revelation 21:2-4 states, “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
David desired eternal communion with the Lord, because he was a man after God’s own heart. Was he perfect? Definitely not. However, God does not expect a perfection we cannot attain on our own. What He does expect is total submission and obedience exercised from a truthful heart. Paul saw this, as well. That is why he desired to live in heaven with Jesus so much. And John saw this in his “revelation of Jesus Christ” that he wrote about in Revelation.
My father was not perfect, but he spent his life striving to draw close to God. He did come to an understanding of Jesus as personal Lord and Savior who loves him so much. God preserved Dad through World War II in order that he could have time to reach that understanding. It was that preservation experience that opened the door for Dad. Dad stepped through that door in his full integrity and began to worship in spirit and truth. This is what God desires of all of us. This is why He created us, to have personal relationship with him. At the end of the internment service, I presented that message to everyone there.
The Word says in Hebrews 4:6-10, “It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today…‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’…Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” How do we do that? First, by confessing our sins honestly to God. Next, asking Jesus into our hearts to take over our lives. Last of all, Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” (John 14:23-24) Which will you do?
Frank Clark, author of the column “Frankly Speaking,” is a retired Christian school teacher and principal. He has been married for 44 years and is the father of four grown children and 12 grandchildren. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.