“It’s a hard way to begin the year,” echoed the sentiment of two dear families whom each suffered the loss of a loved one this past week. The family of DOUG EARL bid a loving farewell to their husband, father, grandfather, and brother this past Friday. The family of TAMMY BARNETT bid their goodbyes to their daughter, sister, and aunt yesterday, January 7. Doug often told me, “I’ve heard you preach a lot of funerals,” and he was right. I had a part in preaching his parents' funerals, two of his great-aunts’, two great-uncles, and a few cousins. Yes, The Earl family and I have been well acquainted for several years. If the Lord wills, I’m to have a part in Tammy’s funeral. I never saw Tammy at any service of the Lord’s church, without her bible and notebook, and pen! She was diligent in taking notes and when she got home, she would re-write them for easier reference for her study. She was indeed an avid student of God’s word!
I doubt Doug and Tammy ever met. Both were Christians. Each had their unique characteristics: Doug loved to watch his grandkids play baseball, and Tammy loved taking pictures and making albums. Both loved music, especially singing. Doug had a large family and loved them dearly, while Tammy loved her family by doing her best to take care of them in their home. She was never married. Both had health issues for several years: Doug from several accidents that inflicted irreparable harm to his body; Tammy with issues beyond her control, but issues that in no way stifled her love for God or her parents, sister, and others of her family.
Thus, it is a blessing to realize these two “strangers” to each other, had a connection that prayerfully joins them with a much larger family for eternity. (Revelation 7:9 - 17) In this respect, they were not strangers at all! They shared Christ. They shared His brethren. They shared His word in their hearts. They shared His promise to the faithful. It is comforting to know God knew them as His children, and therefore cared for them as only the eternal Father can do! And in His time, (Hebrews 9:27), He allowed them to rest from their labors, their works following them (Revelation 14:13), and peacefully fall asleep (cf. Acts 7:60).
I muse on such extreme reality: that God knows His children whether we know them or not! And thus, I ponder: Do we know God as well as He knows us? Do we know His family as well as He knows just our small group? If not, why not? And are we truly striving for that eternal family gathering with Him? If not, why not?