8. The Shadow of Death

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Listen from:
I shall sleep sound in Jesus,
Fill’d with His likeness rise
To live and to adore Him,
To see Him with these eyes.
‘Tween me and resurrection
But Paradise Both stand;
Then―then for glory dwelling
In Immanuel’s land!
Though I was lately knocking at death’s gate, yet I could not get in, but was sent back for a time. It is well if I could yet do any service for Him.
If death which is before you... were any other thing than a friendly dissolution, and a change, not a destruction of life, it would seem a hard voyage to go through such a sad and dark trance, so thorny a valley, as is the wages of sin. But I am confident the way you know, though your foot never trod in that black shadow. The loss of life is gain to you. If Christ Jesus be the period, the end, and lodging-home, at the end of your journey, there is no fear; ye go to a Friend. And since you have had communion with Him in this life... ye may look death in the face with joy.
If, in that last journey, ye tread on a serpent in the way, and thereby wound your heel, as Jesus Christ did before you, the print of the wound shall not be known at the resurrection of the just. Death is but an awesome step, over time and sin, to sweet Jesus Christ who knew and felt the worst of death, for death’s teeth hurt Him. We know death hath no teeth now, no jaws, for they are broken. It is a free prison; citizens pay nothing for the grave. The jailor who had the power of death is destroyed: praise and glory be to the First-begotten of the dead.
I fear the clay house is a-taking down and undermining: but it is nigh the dawning. Look to the east, the dawning of the glory is near. Your Guide is good company, and knoweth all the miles, and the ups and downs in the way. The nearer the morning, the darker. Some travelers see the city twenty miles off, and at a distance; and yet within the eighth part of a mile they cannot see it.
The way ye know; the passage is free and not stopped; the print of the footsteps of the Forerunner is clear and manifest; many have gone before you. Ye will not sleep long in the dust before the Daybreak.
Remember, how swiftly God’s post time flieth away; and that your forenoon is already spent, your afternoon will come, and then your evening, and at last night, when ye cannot see to work. Let your heart be set upon finishing of your journey, and summing and laying your accounts with your Lord. Oh how blessed shall ye be to have a joyful welcome of your Lord at night!
I doubt not but in death ye shall see all things more distinctly, and that then the world shall bear no more bulk than it is worth, and that then it shall couch and be contracted into nothing; and ye shall see Christ longer, higher, broader, and deeper than ever He was. O blessed conquest, to lose all things, and to gain Christ!
Oh, how sweet and comfortable will the feast of a good conscience be to you, when your eye-strings shall break, your face wax pale, and the breath turn cold, and your poor soul come sighing to the windows of the house of clay of your dying body, and shall long to be out, and to have the jailor to open the door, that the prisoner may be set at liberty!... set your heart on the inheritance. Go up beforehand and see your lodging. Look through all your Father’s rooms in heaven: in your Father’s house are many welling-places. Men take a sight of lands ere they buy them. I know that Christ hath made the bargain already; but be kind to the house ye are going to, and see it often. Set your heart on things that are above, where Christ is at the right hand of God.
Your life hath been near the grave, and you were at the door, and you found the door shut and fast: your dear Christ thinking it not time to open these gates to you till you have fought some longer in His camp. And therefore He willeth you to put on your armor again, and to take no truce with the devil or this present world. You are little obliged to any of the two: but I rejoice in this, that when any of the two comes to suit your soul in marriage, you have an answer in readiness to tell them: “You are too long a-coming; I have many a year since promised my soul to another, even to my Lord Jesus, to whom I must be true.”