Friday, July 19, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Thoughts on why death is not the final chapter

Death is Not the Final Chapter
A devotional by Victoria Bylin

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
– 1 Corinthians 15:55 (KJV)

This devotional is dedicated to my Mom
Darlene Bylin McLeary
12/2/1933 – 7/21/2009

My husband and I recently spent a week with our grandchildren – twin girls about to turn five, and their two-year-old brother. As you might imagine, you never know what’s going to come out of someone’s mouth.

During an Amelia Bedelia bedtime story, one of the girls looked me very seriously in the eye. “Grandma, you’re just a little crunchy now. But you’re going to get a lot crunchy and then you’ll die.”

Great. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger says in Kindergarten Cop, “Thanks for the tip.”

I’ve told that story about dozen times now, and every time I have the same reaction. I laugh and then I choke up with bittersweet tears.

Death . . . no one wants to talk about it, or think even think about it—unless they’re getting “crunchy” and it’s staring them in the face. Yet this is where the rubber meets the road in Christianity. We don’t worship a prophet like Mohammed or an enlightened Buddha. We worship the all-powerful God who raised His Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead. As a result, those who believe in him will receive the gift of Heaven and eternal life.

May I be completely honest here? I believe in Heaven with everything in me, but I’m a little scared of death, the process of dying, and getting too crunchy to take care of myself.

I thank God for the words of Jesus in John 14:2 (KJV): “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

We also have the promise of Hebrews 11:1 (KJV): “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The resurrection of Christ is all the evidence we need of God’s love and power. Jesus Christ is Lord over all. He will never leave us or forsake us.

Those words comfort me. So does the experience of my mother’s passing. She was 75 years old when she lost her fight with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD is a combination of emphysema, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. It’s a long battle with a slow decline, and she fought it bravely for many years. When the end came, she was in the hospital, surrounded by family, comfortable, and at peace.

I’ll never forget her last breath. God’s grace rained down on us all through our tears, and love flooded through the hospital room. There have been a handful of times in my life where I’ve felt the tangible presence of God. This was one of them—the biggest one by far. I can only describe the moment as sacred.

My granddaughter is right. Someday I will die, but hopefully not too soon! While I am in the land of the living, I intend to live well and love people as best as I can. The hope of eternity gives us that desire and the strength to do it. 

Knowing that I’ll see my Mom, Dad, and other loved ones again makes that sacred passage all the more powerful. There will be no more suffering—only perfect peace. No one will be crunchy in Heaven, and that’s good news indeed.

Author Bio:
Victoria Bylin is the author of 18 traditionally published romances. Known for tackling difficult subjects with great compassion, she delights in stories that shine the spotlight of God’s love on ordinary men and women facing realistic challenges.

Writing has always been a part of Victoria’s life. As a child, she wrote hundreds of letters and scribbled in journals. As an adult, she worked as a freelance journalist and editor before taking on the challenge of fiction.

She had one goal when she started her first novel: to finish a book-length manuscript, good or bad. That first effort will never see the light of day, but it led to a second manuscript and a sale to Harlequin Historical. Since then, she has written westerns and contemporary romances for both mainstream and Christian publishers, with Together With You winning the 2016 Inspirational Readers Choice Award for Best Contemporary.

Writing is a joy and a challenge for Victoria, but faith, friends and family matter to her far more. She’s a wife, mom, proud grandmother, and a dog-mom to a wacky Jack Russell Terrier. Originally from California, she and her husband currently make their home in Lexington, Kentucky. 
When she’s not writing, Victoria enjoys long walks, travel, and dark chocolate. 

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