“‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ ‘You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men…If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself…and follow me…For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.’” Matthew 16:23-27
It was November, 2008 and I was spending the day with my younger sister, Beth. Her church had just had a fundraiser for her as she was battling cancer. The previous April, she had been given 3-6 months to live due to a rare and aggressive disease. I remember sitting on the floor with her writing thank you notes to those who contributed to the fundraiser. She had a wicked sense of humor and we laughed a lot that day. At one point she looked up at me with those beautiful brown eyes and said, ‘Brenda, am I dying?’ My heart dropped into my stomach and all I could say was ‘Beth, don’t make me say those words.’ I didn’t want to think about the unthinkable. I became much like Peter in our passage this morning. I didn’t want to consider the possibility of her death but she needed to consider the truth of her reality. My sister battled for 4 more months until one Sunday morning Christ came in God's glory with the angels I am sure and ushered her home for her reward.
I remember after her death praying to God in tears…asking why she couldn’t have lived longer…why she had to leave her husband and 8 year old daughter. I felt Him explain that my prayers for an earthly healing only gave her in part what God was ready to give her in full. Her eternal gain was my temporary loss. I certainly did not have in mind the things of God for I was not ready to lose her…my grief… the things of man…denying myself…being joyful that she is experiencing the fullness of heaven surrounded by angels.
This is tough stuff but when we focus our mind and heart on the spiritual things of God we know that we all are born to die…that we are not citizens of this broken world but residents of a home to come. So with a heavy heart and the mind of man I still grieve…remember…consider, but then I lay it back down at the foot of the cross, thanking God for temporal dwellings, seasons that end and future reunions that will last an eternity.
‘Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.’ Col 3:1-2.