As we move into the fall sermon series, I’ve been wondering what living the Christian life looks like in our individual lives. The sermon series began on September 22nd with “What Does Faithfulness Look Like?” Over the coming weeks we will wonder about Hope, Obedience, Thankfulness, Forgiveness, Humility, Compassion, Courage, Peace, and God’s Future. In these ten weeks my hope is that we consider how we live this precious life that has been given to us by God.
Last week I attended a memorial service at another church for a woman who has lived most of her adult life in the small community where she worshiped. She was part of a weekly women’s bible study for years. She volunteered and served her church in a variety of ways. But what struck me the most, was the many lives her life touched. How comforting it was to her family to hear the stories, and to share the memories that stretched back more than 50 years. There was laughter and there were tears. It was a beautiful tribute to a life well-lived.
It was also a reminder to me that sometimes we get glimpses of heaven here on earth. I believe that in heaven our stories, our lives, will be fully known as we are fully known by God. Here on earth, we only get a glimpse of the lives we touch, or an inkling of the ways others’ lives have formed us. It is enough to reassure us and give us hope, but it is only the beginning of the story of our lives.
In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, at the end of the section on love, we read, (13:12)
12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
When we face the reality of death, as Christians we face it with confidence. We know that God is the one who has been with us on this life-long journey, and God will one day guide us home to that place where we will be fully known. It is a good work God does in us over the course of our lives, daily encouraging us to live our lives in ways that reflect our faith. In Paul’s letter to the church in Phillipi we read, (1:6, The Message)
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.
Whether you are blessed with living in one community for the majority of your life, or you have been blessed with a more nomadic existence, know that God has been with you. Whether you face the reality of death at an early age or after a long life, God is still with you. One day each of us will rejoice to see the Glory of our God face-to-face. And in that day we will be fully known, and our stories fully told. We will be filled with wonder at the many ways God moved, often without our noticing, in our lives and the lives of those we loved. And, on occasions such as the memorial service I attended, we get a glimpse of what that day will be like.