“The time has come for my departure.” - 2 Timothy 4:6 The bottom line for most people is that we fear death. Even if we are secure in our hope of heaven, most of us still fear the process and the prospect of grieving for those we love.
Paul saw his impending death as more of a departure. He knew his life on earth was not coming to an end.
He was merely departing.
The word “departure” is used in Greek literature to describe the loosing of a ship from its moorings. It depicts a ship lifting anchor and tossing off the ropes and then rising with the tide so that the winds can carry her out to sea.
C.S Lewis describes this in story form in two of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in which Reepicheep the mouse enters eternity, and in The Last Battle, where Lewis explains that the children had crossed over:
“They were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth had read, which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
This was the dream of Paul’s life, the destiny for which he lived.
“I desire to depart [to cast off the ropes] and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23).
Being able to grasp this concept doesn’t diminish the real pain we feel at facing death or losing someone we love. Lewis also wrote after losing his beloved wife: “It is hard to have patience with those who say ‘There is no death’ or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’”
His grief was profound —and yet he, like Paul, acknowledged, “I was made for another world” (Mere Christianity).
Paul said goodbye to this world, looking forward to heaven, admittedly “torn between the two.” But he knew where he was going and faced his “departure” with joy.
I pray that in whatever circumstances we face death, we can also anticipate the joy of being with Jesus.
[Photo: Meliza Celeridad, CreationSwap]