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Editor’s journey

The reunion

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — While other families sliced turkey and hunted for decorated eggs in the backyard, our family had its own Easter tradition: My mother took us to the cemetery to lay flowers on our father’s grave.

With her four children by her side, Mom would peer at Dad’s gravestone and tears would well up in her eyes. “Harold,” she’d say, “we miss you, but one day we’ll see you again.”

She often reminded us that our father, the victim of a drunken driver, was alive in heaven. She would paraphrase 2 Corinthians 5:8: To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. “Kids,” she’d say, “because Jesus died on a cross and was raised from the grave, our sins can be forgiven and we can live forever in heaven with Jesus and your father.”

Years later I still dream about a reunion with my Savior and my dad. I often turn to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 and treasure God’s promise of eternal life:

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (NIV).

As followers of Jesus, we can anticipate a grand reunion with friends and family members who also accepted God’s gift of salvation. But how mournful it will be for those who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior and miss the opportunity to spend eternity with a parent, sibling or spouse. More important, how tragic it will be to spend eternity separated from Almighty God.

Easter is a day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. It is also a time to examine our hearts to make certain we have accepted the Lord’s invitation to heaven’s grand reunion.

Bringing flowers to a loved one’s grave at Easter is a meaningful gesture. But Jesus isn’t requesting flowers. His grave is empty. He’s asking us to commit our lives to Him today so we can live with Him forever.

Hal Donaldson

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