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Sunday, March 9, 2014

I Will Be With My Brothers Again

(The following is an excerpt from chapter 10 of Jesus and Hitler: Salvation For The Worst Of Us, Salvation For All Of Us Through The Savior Of The World)

Reunion With My Brothers

During the writing of this book, my brother-in-law Jason died tragically in a house fire at the age of thirty-six. His wife and toddler twins escaped physical harm. However, the emotional damage done to all who loved Jason can’t be measured.
"Resurrection of the Flesh" (1499-1502) Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto, Italy
Life can change in the fraction of an instant. The sledgehammer-to-the-face blow inflicted by death brings a pain to our hearts unlike any other. Our minds race to crushing thoughts: “I’ll never see him again,” “I didn't get to tell him how much I loved him,” “How can I go on?”

The hole left in our hearts can never be filled by comforting words. Some things in life are just too big for us to handle alone. It is a pain that only God can give us true relief from. Only He can give us “the peace of God which passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). This is a supernatural peace that can’t be explained because all of our circumstances are screaming at us that we should be in anguish, but we have peace. We can gain temporary relief by artificial means—drugs, alcohol, denial. But is that what we want, temporary relief? God’s peace is free, but it is truly priceless.

Often in life we ask “Why?” and no answer comes. This is where we need faith. This is where we look to God. People will sometimes ask God for a sign after a loved one has died. They want to have tangible evidence that their loved one is OK. I don’t fault them for doing this. I did the same thing when Troy, my older brother and only sibling, died at the age of thirty-one. I don’t even remember what sign I asked God to show me. I’m not telling you to not seek a sign. God may grant you one. But we have God’s words not only as a sign, but as a promise. His words in the Bible tell me that He wills that “all men be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). His words also tell me that He “sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). All people are in good hands—God’s hands—whether in life or death, blessing or judgment, whether He gives you a sign or not. Jesus truly is the “Lord both of the dead and living” (Romans 14:9). Oh, if we only knew the depth of God’s love for us!

When my brother Troy died, I believed in eternal torment for unbelievers. This belief tormented me. I did not know if my brother made it to heaven. Was he right with God? I loved my brother and we were very close. But he didn’t know Jesus or live his life in a way that honored God. He often mocked me when I tried to tell him about Jesus or lovingly warn him that God was not pleased with his life. I told him about God’s grace and forgiveness, but he didn’t want to listen. My brother did soften towards God a bit just before he died. But did he pray the “sinner’s prayer?” I don’t know.

Not knowing where he stood with God haunted me. One minute I would have images of him burning in anguish in a literal lake of fire forever. I’ll say that again—forever. The next minute I would see him walking beside a sea shore in heaven, free from sin and the wheel chair that he was confined to the last eight years of his life following a car wreck. These conflicting thoughts would leap uninvited into my mind for many years.

My eyes well up now as I write this. I remember the point when my belief finally changed from
eternal torment for unbelievers to universal salvation through Jesus. I envisioned a reunion with my brother. He was reconciled to God. The joy was unimaginable. Sitting there captured by the vision, I began to bawl like a stubble-faced baby. I couldn’t control the tears and sobs. I went from hoping I would see Troy again to knowing I would see him again, fully restored according to God’s will. My heart swelled to the bursting point in thankfulness to God. The greatest tension in my belief system had changed to the greatest comfort in my understanding of God. Thank You Father!!
I do know confidently that both of my brothers are in Jesus’ hands, and they will be resurrected. I miss them very much. But the vision I have of reuniting with them brings me great joy. I’ll just have to be patient until the vision becomes reality. It will be worth the wait. I know the eventual reality will dwarf the wonderful vision I now see. I know that God’s will for them is going to be accomplished. Thank You Father. Thank You Jesus.

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