Because He lives!

Some years ago I attended the funeral of a beloved student whose grief stricken parents had no religion to turn to. A religious service was quickly organized, but I have not forgotten the feeling of awful and utter desolation accompanying the parents in their moment of unimaginable grief. Where was their boy? Were they never to see him again? Consider the following poem by Lord Alfred Tennyson:

“Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea,
Thy tribute wave deliver:
No more by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.
Flow, softly flow, by lawn and lea,
A rivulet then a river:
Nowhere by thee my steps shall be
For ever and for ever.
But here will sigh thine alder tree
And here thine aspen shiver;
And here by thee will hum the bee,
For ever and for ever.
A thousand suns will stream on thee,
A thousand moons will quiver;
But not by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.”

We hear Tennyson expressing a desire to live forever, like the rivulet which becomes a river and flows into the sea, to stay eternally. But, he opines mournfully, such applies only to nature, and as to man, “…not by thee my steps shall be”.
We live in a time when more than ever, skeptics abound. In truth, when tragedy strikes, all would with Tennyson, desire to live forever. In u
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!”

Life then, is eternal! It did not begin here, nor shall it end at that time we call “death”. Indeed, the Lord declared unto Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
In the book “God and My Neighbor,” the author, Robert Blatchford vigorously attacked the thought of life after death. He loudly proclaimed, “I claim to have proved everything I set out to prove so fully and decisively that no Christian, however great or able he may be, can answer my arguments or shake my case.” There came the moment when his arguments were shattered, and, like Tennyson, he began to desire hopefully for more. How came the change? His wife died! He was crushed, and after viewing her still body, with heart a breaking he related to a friend: “It is she, and yet it is not she. Everything is changed. Something that was there before is taken away. She is not the same. What can be gone if it be not the soul?” Speaking of the experience later, he said “Death is not what some people imagine. It is only like going into another room. In that other room we shall find … the dear women and men and the sweet children we have loved and lost.”
I testify then, of the validity of the promise, “I am the resurrection, and the life…he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live…” (John 11:25–26) Of Him who so promised, I declare that He lives! Death is not the end, but rather, a very real beginning to life, even life forevermore; that which emanates from Him, even that Holy Being who declared in the beginning, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:39) He lives, and because He lives, we too shall live when this life is through. Of this I bear my sacred witness, in His name, even Jesus Christ, amen.