Today I travelled back to the Kaladar area in order to do a funeral service for my ninety-seven year old friend who recently passed into eternity. Jim was my neighbour when I first went to Kaladar to pastor the church. I first visited Jim because his wife was very sick. Upon her death, I was asked to do the service because I was their new pastor. After she passed, I took it upon myself to visit with him weekly. My visits with Jim were always positive and filled with stories of his family, the area and its residents. As the weeks and years progressed my visits to Jim’s became more frequent and I was now going as a friend. Jim had become my bud.
One of Jim’s passions was cutting wood. Everyone knew Jim’s house because of the many long wood piles on his property. He annually ordered a load of logs which he cut, split and piled for himself and a few others who he supplied wood for. On occasion I would accompany him on one of his wood deliveries. We were quite a pair. Although he was still driving and delivering wood at ninety, I think he enjoyed my company and often asked for me to join him. I always felt privileged to be with Jim who always introduced me as his pastor and friend.
Jim was never a church goer, but our times together were indeed divine. In our many times together, I can only count a handful of times that I actually prayed and talked eternal things with Jim. When we did, I knew that we were connecting spiritually not only with each other, but also with God. I will never forget those moments when, with tears in his eyes, he would affirm his faith in God and belief in Jesus and his desire to see his beloved wife again. It was a simple faith that I believe touched the heart of God.
After seven years of pastoring in Kaladar it was time to move on. Leaving Jim was tough. Other than my wife, Jim was perhaps the person I spent the most time with. However, I know that our time spent together is just beginning.
One of the fundamentals to the Christian faith is the belief in eternal life after death, or as NT Wright says, ‘life after life after death’. The future hope for believers in Jesus is the promise of eternal life. This hope believes in heaven to be life after death, while resurrection is life after life after death. Essentially, the Bible teaches that human beings will be raised to life with a ‘transformed’ physical body powered by The Spirit of God (Romans 8:18-25). Along with creation, humanity will experience full redemption and new life in the new heavens and new earth for eternity where God dwells as all in all. This means that my visiting days with Jim are only on a temporary hold.
Before Jim passed into the spirit realm, he trusted in the One Way to get him there. Jim placed his faith and trust in Jesus Christ, The Son of God. Knowing this gives me tremendous peace and joy along with pleasure to know that we will indeed share many more times together. Perhaps it won’t be delivering wood, but it may involve transporting to other places in the Cosmos. Either way, we will catch up and share more stories about life.
Until then my friend,
P.S. Keep your chainsaw away from the Tree of Life … it’s fairly important!