When all is not what it seems

 
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That little white cross beside the road bothered me. I don’t know why—I’d seen crosses before. Perhaps because it wasn’t there yesterday when I’d passed. Now it stood as a lonely memorial, a silent reminder of another’s anguish.

A name painted in black, together with the years lived, spoke of a life cut all too short.

A name precious to someone—unknown to me, but not to those who, no doubt with tears in their eyes, felt the need to fashion that cross and place it there.

A name certainly not unknown to God.

Perhaps the action was cathartic for the grieving ones, or maybe a warning to others of just how fragile life can be. Please, drive safely.

I drove on, deep in thought, pondering the life so tragically lost. No doubt there were goals never attained, dreams never lived. A vacant chair at the family table. Birthdays never celebrated.

Silent tears trickled down my cheeks as I thought of the family and friends left behind to remember, when others in time would perhaps forget.

What next?

Sometimes death forces us to confront life . . . and our beliefs. Have you ever wondered what the Bible has to say about death ? Let’s take a look.

Contrary to popular belief, we are not able to make contact with our dear departed loved ones this side of heaven. Many have grown up with the popular concept, as I did, that we go straight to heaven when we die. But is that really what the Bible says?

I remember my mother reminding me many times that my late grandmother was looking down on me from heaven. As a child that thought was not very comforting, especially when I wasn’t always “good”!

We are led to believe heaven is a happy place, but if our loved ones are looking down on us from mansions in the sky—seeing our hurt and pain, our Earth in utter turmoil—let’s be realistic, how could they be at peace?

It doesn’t make sense, unless we put aside our preconceived ideas regarding death and prayerfully consider what the Bible is really wanting to convey.

What lies behind this seemingly innocent, yet treacherous doctrine that the dead don’t really die ?

Who is pulling at our heartstrings; playing tricks with our emotions?

“‘You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman” (Genesis 3:4).

But what had God said in the previous chapter? “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (2:17)—the very opposite!

Revelation 12:9 is pretty clear as to who the serpent is: “that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.”

We have a crafty enemy who seeks to blind us to the truth regarding those who have been laid to rest. Satan is a mastermind of deception and when people claim to commune with the dead it is in direct conflict with God’s Word.

God has not left us without hope in our heartfelt sorrow and despair, when our pain feels like a brick on our heart. He understands your loss. He sees all your tears, and mine.

Jesus keenly felt the sorrow and pain of separation that death brings. John 11:35 records that Jesus wept at the death of His dear friend Lazarus.

Or consider the gulf of separation from His heavenly Father that Jesus felt at the cross, causing Him untold agony: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).

Psalm 115:17 says, “It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to the place of silence.’’

Job 14:12 likens death to a sleep, saying that the dead cannot rise “till the heavens are no more”.

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The pretenders

So if the dead do not praise God, have no thoughts or perception of our comings or goings, who then is masquerading as our loved ones in seances, purporting to give messages from the “other side”?

The Bible is very clear; we are warned not to communicate with the dead. We are walking a dangerous pathway when we dabble with the dark arts of spiritualism. This teaching is very explicit in places such as Leviticus 19:31 and Isaiah 8:19,20. The tragic story of King Saul’s visit to a witch in 1 Samuel 28 is also a solemn reminder of disregarding the sound advice found in God’s Word.

Tragically many have unwittingly opened the door to spiritism when God’s Word is laid aside for a popular worldview. We have a crafty enemy who will stop at nothing to blind us to the truth regarding the state of the dead.

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A message of hope

Thankfully the Bible has not left us in the dark and offers real comfort concerning those resting until Jesus returns.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14, the apostle Paul continues the biblical metaphor of death as a sleep, as well as painting a hope-filled picture of people reunited with their loved ones at the second coming. When we sleep, we have no recollection of events or the passing of time.

When we prayerfully compare scripture with scripture, noting the context of the chapter or verse studied, with a sincere desire to know God’s Word, we see there is no contradiction.

Many years later my family came to understand the Bible’s message of hope regarding death and the afterlife—what a welcome relief it was to know my grandmother and others who we’d lost were sleeping peacefully.

One day separations will be no more; we will be in the warm embrace of those precious to us. Until that time, be comforted in the knowledge that one day soon there will be no more little white crosses, for, as the Bible promises in Revelation 21:4, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’’

 

Lyn Scarr is a nurse in Ocean Shores, on the north coast of NSW.