And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
One day we will die. Coming to grips with that fact is the only way we will ever truly live. That truth allows us to live in the fear of the Lord—loving, honoring, respecting, and obeying him. And that truth reminds us that our Lord has “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). Consider this story of Samuel Wilkerson and the powerful way he proclaimed this truth.
Wilkerson was a Civil War correspondent. After the Battle of Gettysburg, he was there to report on the bloody conflict. As he surveyed the battlefield and walked among the bodies, the journalist found the body of his own son, a Union soldier. Wilkerson was broken. But in his grief, he claimed the resurrection promise for those who know Jesus.
Here is what he wrote for the New York Times as he stood next to his son’s body:
Oh, you dead, who at Gettysburg have baptized with your blood the Second birth of Freedom in America, how you are to be envied! I rise from a grave whose set clay I have passionately kissed, and I look up and see Christ spanning this battlefield with his feet and reaching fraternally and lovingly to heaven. His right hand opens the gates of Paradise—with his left hand he beckons to those mutilated, bloody, swollen forms to ascend.¹
When we die, our soul returns to God, our loving Creator. He beckons us home to be with him forever. We will finally see justice because of the injustice that was placed on Jesus. No one spoke in his defense; there was no one to save him from the cross. God laid on Jesus every sin, every evil, every unjust act. Jesus bore our sins in his body on the cross so we could be made right by the just Judge. Jesus’ body was laid in the grave. But he didn’t stay there. On the third day, he rose from the dead. And because Jesus rose from the dead, we will rise as well.
Will you go to heaven when you die? Have you trusted in the Rescuer? If not, please make the words of this prayer your words to the heavenly Father.
Heavenly Father, I am separated from you because of my sin. I am sorry for the injustice that resides within me. I want to turn from my sin and turn to you. I want to be rescued for eternity. I trust in Jesus, the One who took my sin in his body on the cross and paid sin’s penalty by his death. Today I trust in Jesus. In his name, I pray. Amen.
¹ Philip Ryken, Why Everything Matters: The Gospel in Ecclesiastes, (Christian Focus Publishing, 2015), 84.