Day 11: God Alone Is The Umpire

Read Hebrews 9:27-28

I stood unknown at his casket beside two of his former coworkers. One of them said, “The mortician should have made him flipping the bird, ‘cause that’s what he did at work every day.” They chuckled. Then his mom came and stood beside us and asked, “Pastor, is he in heaven?” The coworkers gasped with surprise upon realizing who was I was and then leaned in to see how I would answer. “I’m a pastor, not an umpire,” I said. “My job is not to call people ‘out’ or ‘in.’ I’m here to tell you good news in the face of the worst thing we can face.”

As you read in Hebrews 9, we are all destined to die once and to face judgment. God alone is judge. We also read that Jesus was offered to bear our sins so that we need not fear the Judgment. Therefore, we can eagerly await His return. There is nothing like a funeral to make us look forward to the return of Jesus. After all, the second coming of Jesus will be the end of death. We will not face that terminal event ever again!

A week later, sitting in a hospital room with heartbroken parents, I had no words. Nothing good can be said at the loss of a child. But then this young mother pulled back her hair, looked to me and asked the same question I’d heard at the funeral: “Pastor, is he in heaven?” I pulled out one of the pendant crucifixes I carry and pressed it into her palm. I pointed and said, “Look at that.” Her index finger ran the length of it as if it were the answer written in braille. Now I asked her a question: “Can you trust in someone who would die for you—die for you like that?” It was rhetorical. I said, “You can trust your baby into His hands—the hands that have holes in them. Your baby is in good hands. Jesus died and rose again to save your baby.”