One year ago on Labor Day weekend our extended family, numbering about seventy, stood on a hill overlooking a corn field. Our heads were bowed, preparing for the final goodbye. In contrast the stalks were tall, green and healthy looking. Waving in the breeze, the corn promised a rich and plentiful harvest in the near future. Within our immediate vision was another sight, the copper casket of the one-hundred-year-old matriarch of our family, Grandma. The victory celebration (funeral) had been the day before at church. We were now at the cemetery, laying our loved one to rest.
As I was holding our grandson, something came to me about the connection between the corn and the casket. The corn had once been a dead-looking kernel, small and insignificant, waiting to be planted. The casket held our loved one's body, lifeless and waiting to be put into the earth. Although one may think the connection ends there, it doesn't.
What I told our grandson as he viewed the casket was absolute truth. "Great Grandma's body is going to be 'planted', like a kernel of corn or a seed in your garden. In time, Jesus will come back to wake up Grandma, and we will see her again. Jesus rose from the dead and we will, too. In time, Jesus will transform Grandma's lifeless body into a beautiful new body that will never die again. That's a promise and the rainbow is a reminder of God's promises."
Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel ...falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." John 12:23-26
One day, according to God's promise, Jesus will honor the ones who love and serve him. Yes, they will have to follow him in death. But soon their lifeless forms will rise in the resurrection. When that happens, all believers in Jesus will receive glorified bodies like the body Jesus displayed after his resurrection.
Here is the paradox of faith. When we ask, how long will our Grandma have to stay there in the ground, the answer is this: not even one minute! She is with the Lord now. While we see the death of the body, another promise of Jesus reassures us:
Jesus answered him (the criminal crucified next to Jesus on the cross), "Today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:43
When God taps us on the shoulder to bring us home, we will pass immediately from this life to eternal life with him. Read about it in John 11. Jesus comforts Martha after her brother dies. He shows his almighty power over death and life.
What amazing promises from an amazing Lord! What comfort the promises give when our children cannot make sense out of death. Jesus has conquered, gone before us, is by our side, brings us home, and will transform us to be fully alive, soul and body, forever.
With God's help we can see beyond the corn and the casket to the promise of a beautiful harvest in heaven! With ancient Job we also can say and sing:
I know that my redeemer lives! Job 19:25