Paul, my beloved, has gone to meet Jesus without me. I have always said, “Paul is a perfect husband.” I know no one on earth is perfect. We are all sinners. Just as I, he was a sinner, saved by Grace. But I have always felt unworthy to have one beside me for 58 years who was completely devoted and loved me no matter what. His resolve and unashamed love for me made me want to please him in every way I could. In seminars and speaking to groups I always lifted Paul up as my supporter, lover and encourager. It may be a rare thing that one man can make one woman happy all of their lives. Paul did this for me.
At his funeral, our pastor, Corey Mitchell, our daughters, Renee & Paula, son-in-law, Barry, and all three grandchildren spoke so highly and lovingly about him. That is because they knew he was a God-honoring man, as much as anyone on this sinful earth could be. Before the services I prayed that I would honor Paul, he deserved it. I also prayed that Jesus Christ would be glorified by our combined presentation of Jesus Christ, the only perfect son of God.
Our former pastor, John Thornbury wrote the following, which was read at the funeral. “My dear friend Paul is dead. I had the privilege of being his pastor for many years. He was a quiet Christian. He never sought any recognition, or praise from people. He never sought to have a power position in the church. But anyone who knew him, knew he was a strong man. He found his strength in quiet, reserved faith. He was a good father, grandfather and church member. He was a great husband. His Betty is energetic, ambitious and busy serving the Lord. He always encouraged her and never hindered her but always supported her. He is now with Jesus. There is a hole in Betty’s life that will never be filled on this earth. But she shall see him some day and so will I. In a way I envy him for where he is now.” Dr. John Thornbury.
Some people find comfort in thoughts that their loved one is watching from heaven and even helping and protecting them. Are such thoughts valid? Are the departed still “hovering” near us? What does the Bible say? I don’t want anyone to be embarrassed by words of kindness and encouragement you have been giving me. I take these thoughts and the love of those who have given them as a testament of what you thought of Paul, and how you desire to comfort me. I am blessed by your love and your aid in helping me walk through this difficult path. I will only say one thing about our loved ones looking down and even taking care of us. When I pass from this earth and go to be with Jesus in Heaven, it would be almost depressing to look down on this sinful earth with a responsibility to look after someone.
When Christians die, their souls are immediately with the Lord in Heaven. Jesus said to the penitent thief who hung on the cross next to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). We can comfort a dying believer, as well as ourselves, with the same assurance. What is life like for those souls who are with Jesus in paradise? The Scriptures say little about this, and we should be careful not to say more than is written in the Bible.
The apostle Paul stated that he desired “to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23). We can be similarly confident that those who have died trusting in Jesus “are away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
“God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Are the souls in heaven aware of events on earth? Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6).
The souls in heaven are aware that time is passing and that God’s plan of salvation is progressing (Revelation 6:9-11), but that is about all we can say with confidence. They no longer influence the events of earth. Rather than wonder what Christians are doing in Heaven, it is more important for us to be Christians now, so we can join those who have gone before us.
Thank you all for your kind words, cards, flowers, encouragements and especially your prayers. Jesus does all things well. To God be the glory.