Absent From The Body...

“Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8 NLT In the last two months we have said goodbye to the three of our members, Don Kallberg, Steve Westerlund, and now recently Ed Stensland. Thankfully we don’t grieve as the world does, I can’t imagine how much more difficult it is saying goodbye to a loved one when you don’t know where they will spend eternity. For those of us who are followers of the Lord Jesus, we know this means having a personal relationship with our Savior brings great comfort at times like now. Our hearts go out to all of these families who are still processing through the loss and grief which comes with the death of a loved one. Yesterday was the Celebration of Life for Steve and on Tuesday the Celebration of Life for Ed will be in Gordon. The primary application of the scripture above is the hope we can receive, knowing we will be with our savior the moment we leave this earth. If Jesus tarries, all of us will enter into eternity through the doorway of death. We don’t look forward to it, yet we understand and we will celebrate the ultimate victory it does bring us. For many, the discussion around death or dying is uncomfortable; imagine how much more challenging to accept and/or embrace as an unbeliever. People are dying every second of the day; we just don’t realize it because with 7 billion people on the planet the overwhelming majority of deaths are happening far from our own observation. There are websites that tally the number of deaths and live births, and individuals are dying every second (actually more than one per second) somewhere on the planet. The statistic that should matter the most to this fellowship is 3. We are saddened by the loss of three of our great brothers; who leave an empty space in our hearts and our sanctuary. One of my favorite sayings is we are a fellowship from ninety to newborn. Ninety is just a generic number meaning we have individuals who are “Goldenaires” (senior citizens); all the way to newborns and everything in between. Hawthorne Assembly makes up a beautiful image of what the body of Christ should look like, and my hope is we never lose the ability to use the phrase.

Don Kallberg will now have to ask me in heaven about what it was like living in Germany, Steve Westerlund will have to show me how to make Eggplant Parmesan and Ed Stensland’s next cup of men’s breakfast black coffee will be enjoyed with Don and Steve. These three believers not only represent three individuals who are absent from our body but each has a spouse, children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren that we can continue to love on as our paths cross. Let me challenge you to remember the names Delores, Rose, and Doris. These are three godly women whose spouses are now in heaven, but they are still with us. Make it a priority to hold up these three in prayer, and as the opportunity comes, take time to tell each of them how much you loved their husband. Especially that we notice their absence…

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