I remember as a small child learning to float in the lake near our home. My swimming instructor urged me to “just lay back in the water!” She said, “LeRoy, don’t be afraid, it will hold you, you’re not going to drown, you won’t sink! Just relax and do it!” As a small child, I was so afraid! This was a totally new thing! I had never done anything like this before! But she had – she said she had done it and it worked!
I know this is a simple illustration but it helps me understand my fear of death. I need someone who has heard from God – someone who has experienced it (like Jesus) – to reassure me about what happens after I close my eyes in death. Dying will be a totally new experience for all of us – it’s something we’ve just never done before! The apostle Paul had heard directly from the risen Lord on this issue!! Like my swimming instructor he encourages us…
“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands… For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit! So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. (2 Corinthians 5:1-9 NLT)
So, I guess I’m a little like I was as a child learning to float on my back in the lake when it comes to dying… I’ve just never faced anything like that before! I’ve got to trust the reliable testimony and assurance that God’s word provides… And I will!! When the day comes that I close my eyes in death, as a Christian I believe I will be with the Lord, and at the resurrection be given a completely new body and experience all that “eternal life” means in the fullest sense! Listen, Jesus, my Lord and Savior has been this way before – He conquered death and rose again!! “Because He lives, I will live also!” (See John 14:19)