Posted: 1/17/20 at 1:30pm. Column by Ed Jordan.
At a recent gathering I was speaking with another pastor about how the word “hospice” is so often perceived, which is that hospice is the last phase of care—anticipating that the patient will soon depart this world.
But my friend noted that God is the transit authority who alone knows when your train will depart.
As he said that, my mind went to my memories of boarding trains in a European train station. There is a general, ding-dong alert to inform travelers that a train is minutes away from departure, then a voice announces what train is departing to what city from which track. At that point you see people running to get to the loading area for that train.
I always enjoyed riding the European trains, but you had to know the system. You had to learn how to read the schedules and the arrival/departure boards. You had to make sure you ended up at the right station in the right city, waiting at the right track, boarding the right train in time for departure.
But once you did all that, you could ride confidently, knowing that the engineer knows the way to your final destination.
Our journey to heaven has some similar features. We need to want to go to God’s home (heaven); we need to get on, and stay on, the train to glory.
Jesus, when he was about to depart, told his disciples that very soon he would be going away—departing—and that he had provided a way for those who love him to also one day depart and arrive safely in heaven. The disciples didn’t understand what he was talking about.
Here is a little of that conversation, recorded in John 14:4-6 (CSB): “You know the way to where I am going.” “Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where you’re going. How can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
God created us to love God and to desire to live our lives with him. When we first sinned, our relationship with God was severed. We became hostile towards God.
God sent Jesus to die on the cross, to pay the penalty for our sins, so that those who believe and commit their lives to Jesus can be forgiven and restore a healthy and life-giving relationship with God. We call this transformation becoming a Christian, because our desire is to be restored to a loving relationship with our God and Creator.
Once this is done, we live our lives daily in this decaying body, serving God and telling others the good news that God has made a way for us to receive forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus.
We then daily interact with God while we live in this body but are aware that for each of us there is a day and time for our departure from this physical existence. For those who believe and entrust their life and future to Jesus, the destination is heaven and a new kind of life in God’s splendored presence with no more decay.
For those who reject Jesus and God’s great offer of eternal life with God, there is a departure as well, but it is to a place where there is no fellowship with God. We choose our destination.
We each have a ticket; but believers have a ticket for the train to glory, and each departure time is unique. Sometimes we get a warning, and sometimes the train leaves unexpectedly.
We need to be ready for our departure, so that whenever it occurs we can be at peace, and close our eyes here and quickly reopen them with God in Heaven.
Are you ready for your departure, whenever it may be? Do you know Jesus, the way to life eternal?
Have you embraced Jesus, the truth? Is Jesus even now filling you with his life, a life that even death can’t snuff out?
Here is what the Apostle Paul said in facing his impending death (2 Timothy 4:8-8 CBS): “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.”