Summary: Funeral chapel message.
The text I use today comes from Ps. 116:15 which is a perfect way of expressing God’s outlook on what had happened in the life and death of Glen Criswell. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
While we view death as the enemy, God sees it from another view. We have to ask, “How can God view the death of someone as precious?” Well let’s look at death from God’s point of view to see death from the other side.
There are some things that just look different from the other side. For instance, on the island of Maui, there is a volcano that is often hidden by dreary gray clouds. That’s how high it is. But tourists have learned that a trip through those clouds is rewarded by the view from the other side. Today you can drive to the top. But as you pass through the fog at 9,000 feet, you break through the clouds and you witness a whole new world.
The barren lava rock rests like a jewel in the soft white clouds. From above, the clouds look like the backs of 10,000 sheep racing across the sky. It’s the same mountain and the same clouds, just seen from the other side. Even when it’s dark and dreary from the valley, the sun or the moon and stars always shine above the clouds. You see, it’s a different view from the other side.
A hobby of many people is making rag rugs. They take old rags and twist and tie them a certain way to make a really attractive rug. You’ve probably seen them. From the top these rugs are beautiful tapestries. But if you’ve ever looked at the bottom side of those rugs you’ve seen the maze of knots, unraveled edges and loose strings. The same rug, but it looks totally different from the other side.
Heaven is like that. A little girl was staring into the starry night sky with her dad and said, “Oh daddy, if the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, what does the right side look like?”
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” From this side, death is a time of sorrow, of loss, of defeat, and of separation. But from the other side, it’s a time of release, of reunion, of rest and reward. From this side, Glen saw suffering and pain. From where he is now, he is reunited with the grandmother. That was something he was looking forward to.
Too many times we think of death as coming to destroy everything for which we have lived. But instead, we should picture death as coming to save those we love. Many of you may have come here today thinking that death is the end. But we should think of death as the beginning of a more abundant life.
We think of losing, when it should be gain. We think of parting instead of arrival. Death here on earth is the opening of the gate to eternity. So we would be much better off today if we would view death from the other side. So let’s do that.
From this side death looks like the end, from the other side it’s the beginning. Death seems so final from this side. It appears to be the end of life, the end of relationships, and the end of all we have worked for, all that we have earned.
But from the other side, death is not the end, it’s the entrance. It’s not a goal, it’s a gateway. It’s the beginning of a bright new life, eternal for the believer in Jesus Christ. An anonymous author comes nearest to describing this view of death in a writing called “The Ship.”
I am standing on the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails in the breeze and starts for the blue ocean. I stand and watch her until at length she is only a ribbon, or a white cloud, just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, “There! She’s gone!” Gone? Where? Gone from my sight, that’s all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her; and just at the moment when someone at my side says, “She’s gone!”, there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “There! She comes!” And that is dying.
Hopefully that gives us a good felling today. From this side we say Glen is gone. From God’s side, it is said, “Here comes Glen.” From this side death is a separation but from the other side it’s a reunion.