R.I.P. (Part 1)

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:1-8 ESV).

Today I will begin a short series rooted in the Scriptural description of death for the believer. I feel like I need to say a few things that will be foundational first. The experience of loss when someone we love dies is real and relentless. However, there is a path forward that will produce as much peace as is possible given the magnitude of this pain. I am not ignoring that pain with these principles. In fact, my hope and prayer is that these principles will help you continue your journey with a deeper sense of hope in the goodness of God’s plan in your life. Additionally I want to explore some of the things that prevent us from experiencing that peace. So, let us begin.

R.I.P. is an abbreviation of the English “Rest in Peace” or (in Latin) requiescat in pace. It is often used in epitaphs and inscriptions on the grave markers we see in cemeteries. I’m always a little torn in both using that phrase and in hearing it used. I usually wonder if it represents that same kind of conviction the Apostle Paul expressed in our reading today. Both here and in numerous other places in his letters the apostle is very clear that death for the believer is the preferred experience. Life is good; however, death is so much more. “Rest” is a part of that in the sense that we will no longer struggle with the inevitable pain and disappointment so prevalent in our journey. He makes it clear that “away from the body” is “at home with the Lord.”

But what does that look like? Are we really going to be sitting around on clouds “resting”? The Bible doesn’t make answering these questions easy. It does not give a lot of details concerning what happens right after we die. It is certainly safe to say that we will enter a reality that is far beyond anything we could imagine. We will explore five specific things the Bible says about what we should expect at the moment of death and beyond in the next few days. For now, my hope is that YOU will rest in peace because you know the God who secures those whom he has called.