Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of 40 days of Lent in the church calendar. At Mass this morning we had the opportunity to have a little cross marked on our forehead with ashes. It was a reminder to all that our BODIES are mortal: dust we are, and to dust we shall return, and that Life is fragile and temporary here on Planet Earth.
All of us are terminal. 100% of us will no longer be around in 150 years. No exception. We are on our journey to eternal life either to be with God or to spend forever elsewhere without Him. Some of us may know a little more precisely when we might cross over into the "no more time" dimension of Eternity—at least a guesstimate, if we have a terminal illness or if we are advanced in age. To others that crossover time may come suddenly, unexpectedly, by an accident. Sooner or later we will all leave our mortal bodies behind—but our undying, immortal SOULS will be launched to another Destination. They are incorruptible!
I have had the awesome, solemn privilege (yes, even joy) to accompany many friends to their final Launching Pad by mail, phone, in person, by email or by my published words. Primarily by prayer. Some of them I have never met in person. We know each other in the spirit. We have walked together down that road and I have bid them goodbye. But because they were in friendship with God, their souls are alive and well and retain their identity. Jesus said so in John 11:26. The Church teaches that they are aware and able to pray for us. So we are only temporarily separated and we will meet again. The veil between us may be thin indeed. That makes their sad departure joyful at the same time.
Currently the Lord has bonded me with several dear ones who are probably on their final journey "Home." I am walking with them toward the Light as they make their way through the darkness of their struggles and pain. God is straightening out the crooked ways and making the rough places smooth. To one of them I have just written the words below.
“You have faithfully taught the Word of God, my friend. You have encouraged and comforted others and pointed them toward the moment when their soul launches from this mortal planet to their immortal life. This is the ultimate event we all look forward to as Christian believers. If suffering and pain and weakness should accompany your own departure now, I pray that you will keep your eyes on 'the joy that is set before you' as Jesus our Savior did when He faced the suffering of the Cross. This is what our lives in Christ are all about, isn't that so? Others have gone on ahead, and God has appointed that one day it will be our turn.

After Jesus' resurrection when Peter overheard what He spoke prophetically about John's death, (John 21:19) He used the words ' what kind of death he should glorify God....' I guess Jesus expects our death to somehow glorify Him, to be a witness to others of our faith, and to honor the Lord during that crowning final moment of our life. So it must be possible, and Jesus will be there never leaving or forsaking us.

When I was praying for you this morning, the words of the hymn below kept coming to my mind. I found a version online with a couple of extra verses that I had never seen before. So I prayed it for you. The analogy by the hymn writer is that at the end of our lives we are HEADING INTO THE SAFE HARBOR, TOWARD SHORE, TOWARD HOME not OUT TO THE UNKNOWN SEA somewhere unfamiliar and scary. That puts a whole different spin on our leaving this earth, doesn't it?

Often a big ship needs a tugboat, very small in comparison but nevertheless a mighty, powerful 'Pilot Boat' to pull it through the crowded harbor and hidden rocks toward its dock. The pilot of the big ship must relinquish control and let the Pilot Boat pull it along. The Pilot Boat has the chart and compass and knows how to navigate safely. No analogy is perfect of course, but think of JESUS AS YOUR PILOT through whatever treacherous seas and fierce waves might lie ahead of you. He is strong enough to pull you through all your physical, mental, and emotional struggles, pain, and fears. He will hold you fast by the line with which you are tethered.
Jesus will take control if you relax and rest in Him. Trust Him and He will guide you safely into the Harbor of Heaven where your Welcome Celebration Party is being planned. The 'great cloud of witnesses' will be on hand to cheer and welcome you. (And for sure, all of your friends and loved ones who know Jesus will soon enough be following you—and then you will be part of the Welcoming Committee for them! It is just a matter of time.) This is what you have been faithfully preaching all your life, my friend. Now you get to experience it firsthand whenever the Lord chooses the right time for you. That will be your ultimate healing!
Although the language is somewhat archaic, the words of this classic hymn are relevant not only to those of us nearing Heaven, but for all of us in any season of life. We need Jesus as our Pilot whether we are young, in prime of life, or advanced in age.”

Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal.
Chart and compass come from Thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me!
While th’ Apostles’ fragile bark
Struggled with the billows dark,
On the stormy Galilee,
Thou didst walk upon the sea;
And when they beheld Thy form,
Safe they glided through the storm.

Though the sea be smooth and bright,
Sparkling with the stars of night,
And my ship’s path be ablaze
With the light of halcyon days,
Still I know my need of Thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me!

When the darkling heavens frown,
And the wrathful winds come down,
And the fierce waves, tossed on high,
Lash themselves against the sky,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me,
Over life’s tempestuous sea.

As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boisterous waves obey Thy will,
When Thou sayest to them, “Be still!”
Wondrous Sovereign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me!

When at last I near the shore,
And the fearful breakers roar
’Twixt me and the Peaceful Rest,
Then, while leaning on Thy breast,
May I hear Thee say to me,
“Fear not, I will pilot thee.”

No comments: