After our visit to the churches of various martyrs in old Cairo in Egypt, on our way back to the hotel, our beloved five year old son Reuben, engaged us in conversation, as my loving wife explained to him that some of these Christians chose to deny their life for their faith.
Reuben had a plethora of questions such as, “What happens after death?”, “Does one become an angel?”, “Can angels appear and disappear on earth at will?”, and many more. Trying to explain the concept of being absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8) in glorified heavenly bodies to a five year old was a little challenging, but using scriptural texts, my wife and I struggled to quench Reuben’s inquisitiveness. I said, when one dies before the coming of Jesus Christ, at his coming, the dead shall rise and those who are still alive, who believe in Him as their Lord and Savior, will be caught up and transformed (1 Corinthians 15:40-44, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). For simplicity sake, I answered that I am not sure if they will be transformed to angels, but in the glorified bodies, one can say that we would be heavenly beings like angels are. Regarding the appearing and disappearing on earth at will, if God wills, then they can, as was envisioned by Jacob in the dream (Genesis 28), or Joseph (Matthew 1), or Mary (Luke 1), or Daniel (Daniel) who all saw and some even communicated with angels.
Then Reuben asked me, “Dada, if you die, what will happen to you?” to which I responded, “Since I believe in Jesus Christ, I would go to be with Jesus as well, but when I get to meet him, I will request him to make me your angel for the Bible says that the little ones have angels in heaven who behold the face of God the Father (Matthew 18:10). Then Reuben asked, “Is your dad [who went to be with the Lord on September 30, 1986] an angel?” and questioned “What kind of angel is he; is he a warrior angel in Michael’s troops or a messenger angel in Gabriel’s troop?” to which I responded, I don’t know as my wife shared with him the life and sacrifices of his grandfather (Dr. R.A.C. Paul) for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the tribal hills of Orissa, India.
Then suddenly, Reuben said, “I can’t wait to die!” His expression first caught me off-guard and it brought in me a sense of sadness, but I quickly realized that Reuben was expressing in his own words, the very desire of Apostle Paul from Philippians 1:23. His expression taught me that I must also be like Reuben in my attitude of life. We must live with an expectation of being transformed into glorified bodies to be with Christ Jesus.
Renowned minister, Charles Spurgeon is attributed to have said, “There is an essential difference between the decease of the godly and the death of the ungodly. Death comes to the ungodly man as a penal infliction, but to the righteous as a summons to his Father’s palace. To the sinner it is an execution, to the saint an undressing from his sins and infirmities. Death to the wicked is the King of terrors. Death to the saint is the end of terrors, the commencement of glory.”
To die as a saint (which comes solely by believing in Jesus Christ), either naturally or as a martyr, is the commencement of glory and as our son sagely put it, I chose to live life, each day, with an expectation of being with Jesus in a glorified state. I can’t wait to die! How about you?
Philippians 1:23 (KJV)
23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: