by Lance Olimb
I once sat in a sanctuary; silent and somber. The grizzled pastor spoke lovingly of a deceased woman in the church. He punctuated the announcement by declaring, “She has gone to be with the Lord.” In response to this, an elderly woman behind me stirred and yelled to the person next to her. Yes. She yelled. Her hearing was obviously nearly gone and her ability to whisper had become a relic of the past. Breaking the quiet of the moment and echoing through the whole building, she pondered aloud, “IS SHE DEAD?!?”
I tell that story for two reasons. One, because it actually happened and because I am the kind of person who cannot contain my laughter in such moments. It was amusing but I just couldn’t help but seal the memory by inappropriate, awkward chortles for the next 45 minutes. Two, because it seamlessly makes the point I want to make (okay fine, I probably forced it a little). The point is this, there was a moment in history when the phrase ‘gone to be with the Lord’ did not immediately mean someone was dead. Moses spoke face to face with God. His kids would have run home and asked mom where dad was and she would reply, with a straight face and no lack of hearing, that he had gone to be with the Lord. Ugh. Dad is always talking to Yahweh! Amazing, right?
I remembered this moment when studying 2 Corinthians last week. Paul keeps making his point by bringing up Moses so the connection is easy to make. Exodus records the building of a tabernacle and the frequent visits of Moses with God as a man speaks face to face with a friend. Moses had amazing access to God and Israel was blessed by His ministry. And you know what? Paul says we have a greater hope than that. Jesus gave us a better ministry than that. A greater glory than that. A greater hope. How often to we ponder this hope and access and glory?
What 2 Corinthians teaches is the Holy Spirit in us is more powerful than the most charismatic, divinely inspired leaders. Your pastors could have weekly, face-to-face strategy meetings with God and you would be worse off than you are with the Holy Spirit indwelling you. Of course, having the Holy Spirt with pastors who sit down with God would be the best of both worlds but let’s not break up this illustration with logic. The point is you should never trade the rumination of a guru, no matter how spiritual, for the blood-bought, Spirit-sealed, intimacy you enjoy with your Father.
You can go to be with the Lord today. In this moment you can hear His voice in His Word. Revel in His creation. Lift your voice as a child and bend His ear. Since we have such a hope Four Oaks, we are very bold. Bold enough to risk and bold enough to serve and bold enough to believe that our sins are forgiven and that, in Jesus, everything is going to be for our good.
Thanks for being our brothers and sisters and friends and family. Thanks for serving in all the ways you do. Let’s go to the Lord together.