But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
One of the things I learned early on as a performer was how to walk on stage. As one walks onto the platform there needs to be sense of confidence and purpose. Anaudience needs to feel that something meaningful is preparing to happen. Exiting the stage is equally important. A performer shouldn't just saunter off aimlessly. Showing appreciation and being a gracious receiver of praise is important.
Recently, Kristine and I were invited to the home of some dear friends. They wanted to let us know of a serious and terminal diagnosis one of them had received. While they have shared this with their immediate family, there is also a circle of friends with whom they wanted to share this news. They wanted to include us in this circle.
These were tender moments as they shared the diagnosis and the prognosis. If the doctors are correct, our friend might have up to a year left in this earthly body. At the same time, all of us know of people who have far exceeded what medical professionals might have predicted.
These people are both mature in their faith and in years. I consider them spiritual giants. They have spent powerful times of prayer interceding for others and understand and believe in God's healing power. They have seen God's miracle power. They both have lived full and vital lives but they recognize that their age is not an advantage. They are not giving up but understand that God is in control. I see it as exiting gracefully.
As we shared, I asked, "How should we pray?" The response was that we pray for God's timing. As we closedour visit, I prayed that God would help us align our clocks with His. God knows the number of our days and whatever the time frame, our hearts should beat with God's heart and our clock should be synchronized with His.
As we consider the absence of our friend, I am reminded of the verse in First Thessalonians. We don't grieve as those who have no hope. We know that we will see our friend again.
This couple is a living demonstration of trusting God and leaving a legacy of their faith to those who remain. They are an amazing example of exiting gracefully.