|When the roll is called up yonder|
1 Cor 15:54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
As my father lies in the hospital bed with cancer, the doctors gave him 6 to 12 months to live even with the latest cancer medicines. The thought of dying leaves one confused and lost of the memories of the past and the life to be left behind. Sadness fills us.
I am reminded by a scene last year, when my grandmother died and they played the last song - "Amazing Grace" which was her favourite song unknown to most of us. Unwrapping the family jewellery passed down to my mom, was a cross and my mum kissed the cross. Perhaps, because of the Cross of Calvary that one day we will all be reunited.
Death is a time of reflection not only for the person who was dying, but for the relatives as well. We begin to ask questions, he should have done this or that. But the inevitable soon dawn that life itself is fragile and we can't look backwards but forwards.
Death has so much to do with the experiences of the GLBT community and for the last 30 years with so many deaths due to HIV, it transforms us to be bold for there is nothing more ultimate than death of our loved ones to spur us on to fight for justice and our basic rights and freedoms.
We are reminded of our own mortality. I am deeply saddened but assured knowing that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. One day, I too will return back to Jesus' bosom lying gently just as John did in the everlasting arms of God,.
When we die, we seemingly all look alike, our faces worn out and tattered, shrinked. It doesn't matter anymore whether we are male or female, straight or gay. We face seemingly an unknown destiny, an emptiness and darkness of uncertainty.
For Christians, we are in a unique position amongst all religions, for whilst death is a certainty, the "sting" of death has been taken away by Jesus death and resurrection at the Cross of Calvary.
Hence, our faith in Jesus Christ, is transformed in the future reality of meeting up with Christ in heaven. It takes faith to believe, and faith comes by having the reality of heaven in our hearts whilst we are on earth. This reality comes through the witness of the Holy Spirit with the assurance of our salvation in Christ.
And as we reflect on our past deeds/ misdeeds, the sting of death - the fear to meet God in judgement because of our sins of not following the law is removed by God's grace in Jesus' death and resurrection. His death paid and overpaid for our sins.
Death is not final, for when Jesus Christ died, He rose again. And if we are in Christ ie believing that he died for us and paid for us sins, we shall also rise with Him in heaven. Hence, in death, we go to a better place.
I had escaped death twice. As a young kid, I almost choked to death and in the moments of not having enough air to breath, life quickly vanishes. But my father saved me in time.
In another escape, going to City Harvest church for their prayer meeting very early in the morning, in the empty street a motorbike suddenly appeared at high speed and I was just one inch away from death literally. The motorcyclist looked back stunned, and I stopped in my tracks grateful and thankful to Jesus for being alive.
In reflection, the last 15 years after this "potential" death has been God's grace to me. Perhaps, each additional day that I live is a testimony of God's grace and faithfulness. Living is a blessing from God to enjoy the company of friends and loved ones. It also a blessing to serve God through proclaiming God's word and faithfulness and acceptance of the GLBT community.
When my grandfather died very young in the 1950s, his last words were "when the roll is called up yonder u have to be there!". His roll was called up back to heaven.
For me, when I die, my tombstone would not read "RIP XXX", but "RIP XXXX The gentle lamb has gone home to heaven to be with Jesus Christ".
Till we meet again in heaven's lofty shores where there shall be no tears or suffering and when we shall see each other again.
WHEN THE ROLL IS CALLED UP YONDER