The gray, Texas morning melted from mist into rainfall just as the pastor began to eulogize the man. As he shared about the man's life, his love for his family, and his faithful service to his Savior, the rain accompanied with a steady percussion, the only noise from the crowd the snap of opening umbrellas. In the distance, a car alarm sounded, a dog barked; but here in this grassy place, silence was the contribution of the people.
His life had been long, healthy, joy-filled. His love for Christ was constantly evident. He asked most everyone he met, "If you died tonight, would you go to heaven?" Many learned from him to answer with confidence. Yet the respectful silence of the crowd was only followed by gentle murmurs of loss, of comfort. No wailing nor undue outburst were shared, though gentle songs were. Here in this gray, quiet place, people shared a farewell.
But on the other side, perhaps it was not so gray and still. Perhaps a welcome home party was being thrown, with rainbows of colors and people of all varieties, with important dignitaries and loud declarations of, "Well done, my good and faithful son!" In this other place, where sorrows seem a dream and pain a memory, a renewed man lays low before his Savior's feet, understanding completely for the very first time exactly what all the sacrifices and sorrows were worth.
As gentle good-byes are given on earth, heaven celebrates the reception of a son, a prince, a brother. What we phrase as 'homegoings' here are really 'homecomings' there, with all the pomp and glory and thrill we remember from younger days, multiplied. Two sides of the same coin, only one tainted by sin.
As I stood in the grass sheltered by an umbrella, I considered homegoings and homecomings. And it seemed to me that He really does bring beauty from ashes. And so even now, this work of the Anointed One makes lovely this corrupted side of the coin, even as He did a cross. How much more is yet to come? How much more lovely will He be revealed to be?
How sweet the gift of being grafted in. How unfathomable His ways...
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Aliens will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of their shame
my people will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
they will rejoice in their inheritance;
and so they will inherit a double portion in their land,
and everlasting joy will be theirs.
8 "For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery and iniquity.
In my faithfulness I will reward them
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the LORD has blessed."
10 I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations.