July 26, 2020
2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:
“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”
Normally when someone is standing in front of a group of people talking about a person who has just passed away they would probably say something like this, “I am sorry to say that we have lost a long time and valued member or our group, or our congregation” I however, will not be saying those words today about Brother Fred Carroll because we have neither lost him, nor am I sorry.
That may sound a little weird to hear but none the less it is true, we know exactly where Fred is at, He knows exactly where He is at and God knows exactly where he is at so therefore he is we have not lost him.
The definition of the word lost is “unable to find one’s way; not knowing one’s whereabouts”, Or “denoting something that has been taken away or cannot be recovered. So you see neither of these things are true about Fred, nor will they be true about us when our time comes because we know where he is at we know who he is with and there will be a day when we will be reunited with all who have gone on before us that live on in heaven.
If we were to look in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, all three record the same words of Christ Jesus “For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.” So this is why I am not sorry that Fred is no longer with us here in this lost world because when Fred’s body took its last breath in this world he too could say the exact same thing that John said in our opening scripture “Immediately I was in the Spirit” and He too could see what John had seen, “and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.”
Why would I be sorry that Fred was seeing that, how could I not rejoice in that fact that Fred has seen scripture come to life for him, not in the proverbial sense but in reality. If we could all load up on a luxury bus and plane and tour the most beautiful places in the world and witness both the most beautiful sun rises and sun settings in the world we still would not see anything close to what Fred and all of those who entered heaven before us are witnessing and living in everyday.
This is the ultimate trip for the Christian; this is the sight of all sights. Nowhere else in creation can we experience what those who have entered the door to heaven have witnessed but Fred has an advantage over John when John saw these things Fred is there to stay and will never again return to this fallen world with all its pain and sorrows John had to witness these great things and return, at least for a time.
Today’s message is not a eulogy for Fred’s funeral, but rather it’s a reminder to all of us who may be having a hard time in this life, who may be suffering in body or spirit or mind or perhaps all three, it’s a reminder to those of us who even though we believe, still find that we fear the grave that there is something beyond our bodies final breath, there is a reason to be a person of faith in Jesus Christ, there is a reason to live as we are called to live while we still reside in this world in which we find ourselves. That there is a reason Christ gave us the mission to make disciples of all nations so that everyone would know the joy that Fred knows now.
There is a line before the opening scripture that I did not include because it is talking directly to John and why he had been called up into the spirit and it says “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” All of us who leave this world and enter heaven won’t hear those words from that trumpet of a voice, but what we hope to hear is “Well done thy great and faithful servant”
Maybe that’s one of the points of passing away in this world the way we do, so that we are reminded that this world, that this existence, is fleeting and temporary, maybe that’s why God allows our hearts to ache when someone we know and loves passes away so that we are reminded not only of the fact that our time here is fleeting but so that our minds are drawn to that great question of “What happens next?”
It’s days when death in this world is present that all men face that final question without the distractions and chaos of the world around them, “What’s next?” no one can escape the un-escapable we all will take our final breaths but only we ourselves have the chance to set what is next for us.
I will miss Fred, I will miss his smile and his stories I will miss his love for being with people, but I will only miss it temporarily and then I too shall see the rainbow around the throne as I hope and pray you will as well.