GOING HOME 11-4-18
November 4, 2018
Today is All Saints Sunday, and we are gathered here to celebrate those who have left this vale of tears to go home. This earth was never truly their home, as it is not truly home to those of us who are still here. We temporarily reside here, we share our joys and sorrows here, we serve God here and do our best to fulfill His purpose for our lives - but it is all in anticipation of going home one day. The day we were born again into the family of God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ, was the day we began that journey home. Before that, we were just wandering around aimlessly, looking for where we belong. But on that day, our heavenly Father opened His arms, called us his son or daughter, and invited us to come home.
I am sure most of you have heard of Dwight L. Moody? He was a famous evangelist, revivalist, and publisher who went home to be with Lord just 9 days before the end of the 1800s. He is recorded as saying, “Someday you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone higher, that is all — out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal, a body that sin cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned into His glorious body. I was born in the flesh in 1837; I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die; that which is born of the Spirit will live forever.” A few hours before entering the ‘Homeland,’ Dwight L. Moody caught a glimpse of the glory awaiting him. Awakening from sleep, he said “Earth recedes. Heaven opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go.” His son was standing by his bedside and said, “No, no, father, you are dreaming.” “No,” said Mr. Moody, “I am not dreaming. I have been within the gates. I have seen the children’s faces.” A short time elapsed… and he spoke again, “This is my triumph; this is my coronation day! It is glorious!”
I would like to share one other story I recently read. There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. As she was getting her things in order, she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him the songs she wanted sung at her funeral, the Scriptures she wanted read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. The woman also requested to be buried with her favorite Bible. Everything seemed in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her. “There’s one thing more,” she said excitedly. “What’s that?” came the pastor’s reply. “This is very important,” the woman continued. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.” The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say. “That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the woman asked. “Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,” said the pastor. The woman explained. “In all my years of attending church socials and pot-luck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, “Keep your fork.” It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming, like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance! So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder, “What’s with the fork?” Then I want you to tell them: “Keep your fork. The best is yet to come.” The pastor’s eyes welled up with tears as he hugged the woman goodbye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She knew that something better was coming. At the funeral, people were walking by the woman’s casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing, her favorite Bible, and the fork in her right hand. Over and over the pastor heard the question, “What’s with the fork?” And over and over he smiled. During the message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died, and explained the meaning of the fork. The pastor told the people he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to either. He was right. So the next time you find yourself reaching for the fork, remind yourself that the best is yet to come.
For us, indeed, the best is yet to come. For our loved ones who have gone home, it is already theirs. We view them as having ‘departed’, but from their viewpoint, they have ‘arrived’. And so, let us continue onward until we at last reunite with the saints that have gone on before us to our eternal home. And always remember, that heaven is our true home, as Thomas R. Taylor wrote in this hymn back in 1836:
I’m but a stranger here, Heaven is my home;
Earth is a desert drear, Heaven is my home;
Danger and sorrow stand, round me on every hand;
Heaven is my fatherland, Heaven is my home.
What though the tempest rage, Heaven is my home;
Short is my pilgrimage, Heaven is my home;
And time’s wintry blast, soon shall be over past;
I shall reach home at last, Heaven is my home.
Therefore I murmur not, Heaven is my home;
Whatever my earthly lot, Heaven is my home;
And I shall surely stand, there at my Lord’s right hand.
Heaven is my fatherland, Heaven is my home.
excerpts are from https://www.tonycooke.org/funeral-resources/goinghome_stories/
Opening Video: “The Other Side” (Colton Dixon) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KL-ezTT5E0E
Closing Video: “Home” (Chris Tomlin) https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=YIb4NC5ikYo&index=1&list=RDYIb4NC5ikYo
When the saints go marching into heaven,
I want to march with them too.
So I can live forever with Jesus,
Where the sky is always blue.
And I will never cry again,
Or get sick, or be in pain.
Heaven is the best place of all -
Where the saints will always remain.