Her turn has come in the great democracy of death, where all of us will follow, though we know not the day nor the hour. But, right now, she is gone but we remain. Why? There are no accidents. Jesus has left us here this long for a reason. What unfinished business can there be, then; what things to do we have as yet not done? There are certainly the many settings of daily life that we need to finish out on the right side of the ledger if we can – telling our spouses how precious they are to us, if we have neglected to do that, working on forgiveness to neutralize the poison of cruel things said about or done to us, helping a neighbor through a difficult time. In the words of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, my classmate’s state,
“I expect to pass through life but once. If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do for any fellow being, let me do it now… as I shall not pass this way again.”
But as each of us contemplates that long step out of the cramped vista of natural life and onto the great stage of eternity, the larger question seems to me to be – will we have regrets for what we didn’t try, for what might have been? Most particularly, will we regret never having tried to achieve some really great and good thing? If we did try, it doesn’t matter if it was the longest of shots and never worked out. It doesn’t matter if we began it but it crashed and burned. And it doesn’t matter if we were so oppressed by the burdens in our life’s journey that we had only a widow’s mite to offer. The point is, we did give it a shot. We did offer ourselves as tools on Jesus’ workbench, reaching to serve the highest and widest use we could imagine. If, again, we did.
At this very moment my classmate is talking to the ever-curious angels. So “what news from earth” (Marriage Love 182: 3, 207:2, 532, True Christian Religion 692–4) are they learning from her, about us, and others? Are they hearing of the building of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, bringing the comfort and joy of an authentic and beautiful relationship with Him? Or is something still lacking? Is there some great and good, and unique, contribution of ours to this work that is needed, perhaps even the main reason we’re still here? I like to think so, for what a magnificent thing it would be to be, at last, a part of the great awakening to the full power of the two Comings. In fact, I have this image in mind of waking in the spiritual world, when it’s my time. In the image I am walking across the rim of a hill overlooking a beautiful valley with the angel assigned to help me through my post-death transition. “What news from earth?” he asks politely, and I turn to him and say, “After two centuries, it’s happening; it’s really, finally happening. The good news of the Gospel of both Advents is being preached to, and welcomed by, the spiritually poor (Luke 7:22) on the great scale for which they have waited so long and that this troubled world has needed so deeply.” My guide is surprised, but turns and gives me a big hug and shakes my hand. “I’ve prayed for this,” he says. “But come, let’s share these tidings,” and we turn our footsteps towards the city in the valley, on the banks of the river of the water of life (Revelation 22:1).