By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
Mabel had been in poor health for a number of years, and now she was in the hospital again. Things didn’t look good for her. We thought this might be her last illness.
One day while sitting in my church office, I got a phone call from the hospital that her death was imminent. So, I hurried to be with her and Calvin. We got to her bedside at about the same time. But it was too late. She had passed away before we got there. We stood at her bedside in silence, the silence of death and grief. Calvin lovingly stroked her lifeless arm. It was hard to let go of the one to whom he had been married for so many years. After a few minutes, Calvin said to her, “Come on, Mabel, let’s go home!” He knew she was dead, but he wanted to take her home like he had done several times before. His words were an understandable expression of his grief. After a few more minutes at her bedside, we left the room and went home. Later, I reflected on what Calvin had said to Mabel as he stroked her arm. His words brought some words of Scripture to my mind. I saw in Calvin’s statement an illustration of a wonderful Biblical truth. That truth is what we call the Rapture, the event spoken of in several New Testament passages, the most well-known of which might be 1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 18. Verses 16 and 17 say, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
According to the Bible, when a Christian dies their soul leaves their body and goes to be with the Lord in heaven. That is why the apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:21 that “to die is gain.” That is why he said in verse 23 that to “depart and be with Christ is far better” than remaining on earth. That is why Stephen, near death from stoning by enemies of the Christian faith, cried out in prayer, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Recorded in Acts 7:59.)
To be in heaven is far better, for it is a place of perfect happiness in the Lord’s presence, compared to our earthly lives which can be filled with trials, tribulations, and tears.
When Mabel died, it was as though the Lord said to her, “Come on, Mabel, let’s go home!” And that is what he says, as it were, to every Christian on their deathbed: “Come on, Bill, Bob, Susan, Samantha, let’s go home!”
Some time after Mabel’s death, it was Calvin’s turn to die. Some of us were with him at that time. Our son, Phil, held his hand and prayed for him in those last moments. It was as though the Lord said to Calvin, “Come on, Calvin, let’s go home!”
That is what will be said, so to speak, to all Christians at the Rapture, too. The Lord will say to their bodies in their graves, “Come on, be reunited with your souls and come home!” And to those still alive at the Rapture, the Lord will say, “Come on, let’s go home!”
When we think about the wonderful future of Christians as revealed in the Bible, it is no wonder 1 Thessalonians 4:18 says: “Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.”