Monday, June 08, 2009

Summer Reading Challenge

I was just thinking this morning about my summer reading. Lo and behold, what did I come across at Seasonal Soundings but a Summer Reading Challenge?

Here's my list:

Dallimore's two volume biography of George Whitefield

Does Christianity Squash Women?

Moby Dick

Women Helping Women

Women Leading Women

A Place of Quiet Rest - Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Showing the Spirit - Don Carson - (I'm about halfway through)

The Book of Negroes - Lawrence Hill - (book club summer selection - I've read it once but I'll read it again to refresh my memory)

Tapestry of War: a private view of Canadians in the Great War - Sandra Gwyn

The Private Capital: ambition and love in the age of Macdonald and Laurier - Sandra Gwyn

Probably this is a terribly ambitious list but many of these books have been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read so it's time!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sunday Hymn - It is Not Death to Die

From Come Weary Saints

It is Not Death to Die

It is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne
Delivered from our fears

O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die

It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore

O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die

Bob Kauflin rewrote it from an older hymn. Here are the words to the original hymn, by Malan, translated by Bethune:

It is not death to die,
To leave this weary road,
And midst the brotherhood on high
To be at home with God.

It is not death to close
The eye long dimmed by tears,
And wake, in glorious repose,
To spend eternal years.

It is not death to bear
The wrench that sets us free
From dungeon chain, to breath the air
Of boundless liberty.

It is not death to fling
Aside this sinful dust
And rise, on strong exulting wing
To live among the just.

Jesus, Thou Prince of Life,
Thy chosen cannot die:
Like Thee, they conquer in the strife
To reign with Thee on high.

This song has come to mean a lot to me. I first heard it last summer, when we bought Come Weary Saints. After a few weeks of listening to the CD, I commented to Terry that I couldn't understand why that song stood out to me, among all the others. In fact, I could barely remember what other songs were on the album but that one was always one I pondered. I think it was partly because I have never really looked forward to heaven, although I grew up in a Christian home and understand (at least partially) God's plan of salvation at an early age. I was challenged by the words to consider in a new way my view of death and heaven.

Fast forward a few months and I discovered why that song had stood out to me. When I found out about Emily's death, I was driving home from a conference. (In case any of you wonder, I made Terry tell me on the phone because it was better to know the truth than spend the drive wondering what was going on). After a while, I turned on my ipod to "It is Not Death to Die" and listened to it at least two times. God really used it to change my focus even at that moment to His truth of what death is. That doesn't mean that I didn't grieve and didn't argue with God but that even at that moment, He was taking my grief and starting to turn around my understanding of what He was doing.

The other song I listened to just as I was coming into town was "How Deep". The chorus is

How deep is His love,
How high and how wide is His mercy,
How deep is Your grace,
Our hearts overflow with praise to you.

And it begins with "You were broken that I might be healed". As I listened to that song, it hit me - God's Son had died. He knows our grief because His Son died. But because of His Son's death, we are healed and we can look forward to the time when we will enter into the kingdom of God.

We grieved Emily's death. We are still grieving her and probably always will. But we take comfort in God's words of comfort and His promises. And when everything seems to press in on me, then I sing the words of "It is Not Death to Die" to myself and God reminds me yet again that there is more to life than we see now and Emily is now praising her Saviour in His presence.

Spurgeon also says,

"Dear friend, have you found that trouble cuts the cords that tie you to earth? When the Lord takes a child, there is one less cord to fasten you to this world and another band to draw you toward heaven. When money vanishes and business goes wrong, we frequent the prayer meeting, the prayer closet and the Bible. Trials drive us from earth. If all went well, we would begin to say, "Soul, relax". But when things go amiss, we want to be gone. When the tree shakes, the bird flies away. Happy is the trouble that loosens our grip of earth."

Thoughts from Spurgeon

This is from Beside Still Waters: Words of Comfort for the Soul

"We love God's people. They are exceedingly precious. Far too often we look on their deaths as a grievous loss. If we could confer immortality, we would never let them die. But it would be cruel to deprive them of a speedy entrance into their inheritance. We want to hold them here a little longer. We find it hard to relinquish our grasp, because the saint's departure causes us much pain. We are poorer because of the eternal enriching of the beloved, who have gone over to the majority and entered their rest.

Yet know this, while we are sorrowing, Christ is rejoicing. His prayer is, 'Father, I desire that they also, whom You gave Me, may be with me where I am; that they may behold My glory which You have given Me' (John 17:24). In the advent of every one of His own to the skies, Jesus sees an answer to that prayer. We are grieving but He is rejoicing. Their deaths are painful in our sight, but 'precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints' (Ps. 116:15).

Tears are permitted, but they must glisten in the light of faith and hope. 'Jesus wept' (John 11:35), but He never complained. We may weep, but not 'as [those] who have no hope' (I Thess. 4:13). There is great cause for joy in the departure of our loved ones.

Death itself is not precious; it is terrible. It cannot be precious to God to see the highest works of His hand torn in pieces, to see His skillful embroidery in the human body broken, defiled, and given to decay. Yet to the believer, it is not death to die. It is a departure out of the this world to the Father, an entrance into the kingdom."