When my dad first told me that he was not afraid to die, that he was ready to go whenever God saw fit to take him, I didn’t know what to say. I was uncomfortable with the idea of Dad dying, though I was happy for him to be at peace about it. This was probably about 5 to 10 years ago. When he did pass this last January, he told my mom he was ready to go and meet Jesus. He was 90 years old, and his body was worn out. My youngest daughter joked that God knew better than to argue with Grandpa!

When I led a small family graveside gathering in July, I focused on a Scripture that Dad often quoted from 2 Corinthians 5:6-9 which he summarized simply as “absent from the body, present with the Lord.”

So here is what we can always be certain about. As long as we are at home in our bodies, we are away from the Lord. We live by believing, not by seeing. We are certain about that. We would rather be away from our bodies and at home with the Lord. So we try our best to please him. We want to please him whether we are at home in our bodies or away from them.

My brother, who has terminal cancer, has often heard my dad talk about death in this way, so when I visited my brother, who is in hospice, I found that I was quoting Dad when my brother was grieving the loss of the close relationship he and my dad had, reminding my brother of what he had often heard Dad say. This thought also gives my brother peace about his own impending death.

The most frightening thing about death is that we are not in control. We did not choose to be born, and we do not have much choice about when we will die. Death is really an “unknown” to us except when we watch those close to us pass from this life.

So what is the “gain” that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians? It is no longer being “away” from Christ, it is seeing in truth what we have chosen to believe for many years. We take comfort in knowing that our loved one is with Jesus, seeing him face to face, freed from the body of sin and death that has been slowly wasting away to the point of freeing our spirits to “fly away.”

There is a very old hymn that comes to mind. I like to think of my dad when I listen to it.

You can use it as a meditative prayer today, rejoicing in the life that is coming.

Throughout This Day: Pray for anyone you know nearing death or going through illness, asking God to be near them and grant them his peace.

Tags: A God-Focused Life Daily Devotional Philippians 1
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