Heaven is even sweeter now

We found out early this morning that one of the dear saints at our church passed away. She was a good friend, one of the first people here to invite us over. She had myriad physical problems but never had a self-pitying attitude. She volunteered long past the age that people retire to their rocking chairs.

There are always such strange mixed feelings when a believer dies. There is joy that she is without pain any more and in the Lord’s presence. Yet there is the feeling of loss, the missing of her presence, the renewal of loss each time you think about calling her only to remember she is gone.

It’s funny how the Bible says life here is but a vapor, yet we’re so surprised when it actually does end. She had been seriously ill so many times and bounced back, we just kept expecting that to be the pattern even though she was growing feebler.

Not long after hearing the news, the hymn “Jerusalem the Golden” came to mind, one of my favorites. The Bible doesn’t tell us very much about heaven. Elisabeth Elliot says that’s because, if we knew how wonderful it was, we would never get anything done here for thinking about it.

Jerusalem the golden,
with milk and honey blest,
beneath thy contemplation
sink heart and voice oppressed:
I know not, oh, I know not,
what joys await us there;
what radiancy of glory,
what bliss beyond compare!

They stand, those halls of Zion,
all jubilant with song,
and bright with many an angel,
and all the martyr throng:
the Prince is ever in them,
the daylight is serene;
the pastures of the blessèd
are decked in glorious sheen.

There is the throne of David;
and there, from care released,
the shout of them that triumph,
the song of them that feast;
and they who with their Leader
have conquered in the fight,
for ever and for ever
are clad in robes of white.

Oh, sweet and blessèd country,
the home of God’s elect!
Oh, sweet and blessèd country,
that eager hearts expect!
Jesus, in mercy bring us
to that dear land of rest,
who art, with God the Father,
and the Spirit, ever blest.

By Bernard of Cluny, 1145; translated by John Mason Neale, 1851, 1859

I have on a CD somewhere a beautiful men’s choral version of it that I was hoping to find online, but couldn’t. I found this version with the organ — not my favorite instrument, generally, but this is nice. And then I found this — I don’t know these folks and the words are a little hard to hear, but at least you can get an idea what this lovely hymn sounds like.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. John 11:25.

8 thoughts on “Heaven is even sweeter now

  1. I am sorry to hear that you have lost a friend. As I am certain you know, when we grieve, we do not really grieve for the dead. We grieve for ourselves as we struggle to rearrange our lives and go on when there is now a piece of our own heart and soul missing.

  2. Oh Barb… I am sorry for YOU that your friend has passed on. But yes… we must be happy for her! She has seen Jesus! How exciting THAT is! It’s much harder to be the one left behind. I am sorry…

  3. I’m very sorry to hear about your friend and send my warmest condolences to you and all involved. I always think that they go to a better place. Be strong my friend. 🙂

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