By Karen Gervais
I’ll Fly Away
One of the songs I love to sing, but don’t hear very often has these words:
When the shadows of this life have gone–I’ll fly away.
Like a bird from prison bars has flown–I’ll fly away.
I’ll fly away, oh glory; I’ll fly away in the morning.
When I die, Hallelujah by and by; I’ll fly away.*
Some may think it’s morbid to think about dying and what lies in store for us.
Some may say it’s a waste of time to dream about the glorious moment of being alive at the time of Christ’s appearing and being caught up with him in glory.
After all, “get your head out of the clouds! We have a job to do while on this earth and all. Nose to the grindstone, Kingdom person!”
Maybe the phrase, “so heavenly minded, he’s no earthly good” comes to mind.
Once upon a time, I thought this way: Heaven was a distant wonder and mystery. But maybe thinking about it more in this new year can inform our daily lives and priorities, as well.
Our Blessed Hope
Have you ever heard of the “Blessed Hope”?
Does our “Blessed Hope” sound like something one might mentally affirm and then put it away for safe keeping for the rest of one’s life…like a savings bond or something?
No. Our Blessed Hope is something to look forward to with joyful anticipation, excitement, giving an overwhelming sense of daily purpose and peace knowing what awaits us.
It’s like being in a prison cell but knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that that door is going to spring open any day now.
In the book of Titus, we read that our Blessed Hope is nothing less than “the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
When it says “Hope” it isn’t a maybe, sorta-might-happen-kinda thing. This kind of Hope is a rock-solid assurance of Christ’s promise to complete what He began…to rescue us not only from the penalty and power of sin, but to translate us into his kingdom and away from the menacing presence of sin.
Have you thought about how incredible it will be dwelling forever with the LORD, but also forever FREE from the presence of sin? Imagine:
No more death.
No more cancer.
No more pain.
No more depression.
No more anxiety.
No more suicide.
No more chronic illness.
No more racism.
No more betrayal.
No more divorce.
No more hunger.
No more violence.
No more suffering.
No more addiction.
No more regret.
No more bad news.
No more burying children.
No more famine.
No more orphans.
No more abuse.
No more injustice.
No more hatred.
No more tears.
No more sickness.
How many of these things have you been touched by this year? Not a son of Adam or daughter of Eve has escaped intimate acquaintance with at least one of these. Not one. Can you imagine a life without the presence of these things that grieve us?
Our Blessed Hope is that Christ will gather us at his Second Coming and will replace every one of these earthly sorrows that have shackled our feet, with glory and unending joy.
The reason thinking on these future things and the promise of our Blessed Hope is a good practice for us is because rather than producing wispy, heads-in-the-clouds God-followers, it will produce expectant and purpose-filled disciples that desire to live lives that glorify the God upon whom we await. Our Blessed Hope gives us the strength to persevere as we experience the fallout of sin in this broken world.
A Glorious Awakening
Friend, the time is nearer for all these things taking place than when we first believed. We could close our eyes in death one minute from now. Or a trumpet call could open our eyes wider than they’ve ever been opened. We have no time for flirting with the enemy or playing in his playground.
Being constantly mindful of our Blessed Hope and stirring others up by reminding them is what makes the trifles of this world dull and tasteless. It refocuses us on the Kingdom of God and all that awaits us when this world is pounding the living daylights out of us. It makes us useful vessels for his kingdom work He’s left for us to do.
We have an eternal promise of a glorious inheritance as co-heirs together with Christ. Our future with him is so incredible that our current senses haven’t the capacity to take in all that is in store for us who have trusted in Christ.
There is a glorious future awaiting us. In 2020, let’s be mindful of this and watch how it changes the lives we live from day to day.
“One glad morning, when this life is over…Just a few more weary days and then…No more cold iron shackles on my feet…Like a bird from prison bars has flown…I’ll fly away.”*
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.
For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.
For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trumpet call of God.
First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
Then we will be with the Lord forever.
So encourage each other with these words.” **
*I’ll Fly Away written by Albert E. Brumley, 1929.
** I Thessalonians 4:13-18