Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” (Book of Revelation)
A sad thing about getting old is that slowly but surely one loses all his friends. We are “left behind” by those that opt for an “early departure” and simply leave this world for a better life with the Lord and his angels. Like the verse says, the ones that die in the Lord are blessed and look forward to an eternity of fulfillment and happiness. The ones that stay simply continue with their “labors”. The ones that stay experience a loneliness and isolation that creeps to the point that many simply decide to join a retirement community, assisted living facility, or in the worst of cases, simply take their own lives.
Man was not made to live alone. He was made to live and function in community, preferably surrounded by friends, loved ones, and family. In today’s culture the family ties are not strong. The result is that old parents are usually left alone by themselves or simply moved to a facility for seniors where somebody else is paid to provide the basic services. As we age, the ranks of the company that grew with us simply thins down to a trickle and eventually we are left with only memories, looking at old photo albums and remembering the good old times.
I have lost so many friends that I wonder why it is taking me so long to go. More than half of my high school class are gone. Friends that shared my life in the various places where I lived have departed. Nobody replaces them. It takes a life to make good friends. One just can’t buy them in the nearest Walmart. They are “irreplaceable assets”. Even many that graduated with me from the university are long gone. They are now resting from their labor.
I was talking with one of my remaining friends this morning. Thanks to FaceTime we are able to look at each other via computer. We agreed on many things especially the fact that the most important thing that really keeps us going is our faith. Knowing that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, that there is a blessing in waiting for us, a place of rest from the turbulence and loneliness of this life is the best antidote for depression that man could ever invent.
One of my remaining friends is approaching the end of his journey at this time. It is something that repeats itself again and again, more so as we get older. Another departure. Another celebration of life for the ones that go and a reminder of more loneliness to come for the ones that stay behind. I have spoken with him several times remembering the times we shared, without too much emphasis on the fact that he is about to go. He told me he is ready. He knows that he will be in a better place. I am not ready to lose another friend. I am still dealing with the feeling that is already dawning on me. His deeds will follow him. He will be just fine. I will miss him till that day when we will join the family of the redeemed.
Some may say that there is nothing after we depart this life. That would be very sad. If that is so, then there is no consolation, no hope, nothing to look up to, only a desert to traverse without even the hope of an oasis. I prefer to believe in what HE said. It helps me to live what remains of my journey. It gives me something to look forward to. I may run out of friends but I will still have a FRIEND that is waiting for me at the other side. When my time comes I will also rest from my labors. Hopefully my good deeds, albeit scant, will follow me. Thankfully, HIS deed is sufficient. Because of what HE did for me, I am complete, ready to go, luggage ready, just waiting for the signal to fly away and receive the promised blessing.