This morning I sat down to read in my Bible and opened up to Revelation 21:1-5. Here's what is said:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven had passed away, and he sea existed no longer. I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God's dwelling is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will exist no longer; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. Then the One seated on the throne said, "Look! I am making everything new!"After I read those words I closed my eyes, trying to soak in the picture that they painted. Later in the chapter there is a grand description of heaven complete with gates of pearl and gold and precious stones everywhere, but that isn't what captivated me. The greatest most beautiful part about heaven is this: We will be with God. "God's dwelling is with men, and He will live with them."
No more than a couple of hours after I read these amazing words and hid them in my heart, I got a phone call that rocked me to the core - Austin Macemore passed away this morning, entering into the eternal rest of Jesus. I don't believe it was a coincidence that I read those words in Revelation this morning. No, God was preparing me for this staggering news with a beautiful reminder that Austin is now with Him.
Austin is now healed of cancer. Death no longer exists for him. Austin no longer is experiencing any grief, crying or pain. Those things have passed away for him. Austin has been made new. Austin gets to hang out with Jesus.
Forever is a long, long time. Compared to forever, the amount of time that we live here on earth is just a blip on the map of life. Everything that we believe and invest in while living our earthly lives has a direct bearing on our eternity. Austin heard the voice of Jesus call to him many years ago and he answered with a resounding "Yes!" Austin already had made up his mind where his forever would be.
It's comforting for me to think of Austin now sitting at the feet of Jesus, basking in the glorious presence of God. Doubtless he's already seen Abraham, Moses, and Elijah and if know Austin he's probably hanging pretty close with Peter. It's comforting for us to know that Austin is no longer suffering from the ravages of cancer - indeed, he kicked cancer's butt this morning!
There's nothing like the death of a loved one to make us all contemplate our own eternal destiny, yet the prospect of forever sits in front of each and every one of us on a daily basis. I had the chance to spend a lot of time with Austin and I am a better man for it. And one thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that forever mattered to Austin. He did not want to go so soon but he has no regrets about meeting Jesus. Surrendering his life to Jesus Christ was the most important decision that Austin Macemore ever made and right now he's reaping the benefits of dwelling for eternity with our glorious God. As you remember Austin in your own way over the next few days and weeks, I'm also positive that Austin would want you to not take the prospect of forever lightly. Forever to Austin meant Jesus. I pray that Jesus is your forever too.
One last thing. The picture I added above makes me laugh so much because that's just Austin. So full of life, glass not only half full but spilling over, the very definition of joy. The last time I saw Austin was right after Christmas and I had a chance to say goodbye. I told him that I would see him again and because of Jesus I will. Austin, I miss you and love you like a son. I will see you again.