As some of you may well have heard, early on Thursday morning, our dear sister, Darlene Tennant passed into the immediate presence of Jesus Christ, her Savior. Her fight with cancer is over, her rest is won, her soul is safe. Darlene is at home with the Lord, more alive than she has ever been before. Soon, we shall be with her.
In recent weeks, Darlene and I have talked often about death— what will happen, what will we see, how will we feel? Like most of us (myself included), Darlene balked at the thought of death. It is the great unknown, an experience we were never meant to endure. To have our souls torn away from our bodies is certainly a fearful thought. It does frighten me, and it did frighten her. After one of our chats, I shared with her this piece I wrote a number of years ago. With God’s blessing, it brought her comfort and more than a little hope. I share it with you, as we all ready ourselves for our own journey, that most personal of all moments, when we cross the river to Beulah’s land, where glory, glory dwelleth…
Surrounding her room, as far as the eye of faith can see, angels kneel in quiet expectation. Another of God’s glorious children nears the end of her earthly pilgrimage. Death stands at a distance. Another has paid her debts, Death has no bill to collect from this soul (Romans 6:23). His only role today is to open up the door of heaven and let her in. With difficulty Death reaches for the handle, his pale shadow recoiling before the brightness of eternal life (Psalm 23:4).
The Father’s voice breaks the silence, “My child, don't be frightened. You are almost well and nearly home. My Son, the Lord of glory has redeemed you from your sins by His blood. Come, and I will make known to you the path of life. You have more than conquered through Him who loved you (Romans 8:28-39). I will not abandon your soul to Sheol. Corruption will not have the last word over your body. In My presence there is fullness of joy. At My right hand there are pleasures forever more (Psalm 16:10-11). Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). Do not fear, only believe (Mark 5:36). Little girl, I say to you, arise! (Mark 5:41)."
Immediately, her heart rests, her striving stops, and her spirit bursts forth with never before felt freedom. She’s not alone. The smiling faces of angels surround her with joy. These ministering spirits knew her before she knew herself. As a toddler, they carried her toes past stones on earth (Psalm 91:12), now they will carry her soul up past the stars to heaven (Luke 16:22).
'With all the gladness of a little girl skipping home from school for the holidays', she begins her journey. Faster than light they fly, leaving suns, moons, and stars far behind. In the distance, a new light begins to dawn -- a warm, happy radiance, like the Sun of Righteousness rising with healing upon His wings. She sees the light, then she hears the sounds of heaven. Like theology on fire, the city overflows with song. Audible beauty that can be felt, their music surges with the power of ten thousand oceans, yet gently it soothes with the happy gurgling of a mountain stream. Here’s a sound worthy of God’s Son, the Lion who is the Lamb. The One who was dead and is alive forevermore, who holds the keys of death and hell (Revelation 1:18).
In a moment she is through the gates and in the glory (Psalm 29 & 84). Surrounded by the weightiness of God, her soul is not crushed. In fact, it seems to expand. The Spirits of just men made perfect throng about her with crowds of happy hallelujahs (Hebrews 12:23). Aloft they carry her towards the Throne Room. It was as she entered that I lost sight of her. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man what glories I saw through that door (1Corinthians 2:9). But the King was there in all of His beauty (Isaiah 33:17). As soon as her eyes saw him, she became like Him forever (1John 3:1ff). The angels bowed, struggling to behold the sight of her radiance (Isaiah 6:2), incandescent as she was with the splendor of God (John 17:22). And as the door closed, I heard the Lord quiet her with his love and rejoice over her with singing (Zephaniah 3:17), “I have seen of the travail of My soul and am satisfied.” And all heaven did resound with the song, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!"