Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Cor 13:12 (NIV)
Death, as we see it in hospital, in home or wherever, looks final and absolute. And it would seem to be the end of the Way. But for those who have walked the Way in faith it is no dead end. It is the beginning of something new, something certain and glorious.
Up to that point our trust has been in the unseen Christ. Through faith in him we know that we have eternal life (1 Jn 5:11-13), that we have already passed from death to life (Jn 5:24). We have walked with him through both the smooth and the rough patches of life, confident of reaching the goal. We have been able to echo Paul's words: `I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that Day' (2 Tim 1:12). He is close by us in the valley of the shadow of death. And as he goes with us, the seeming end, the death of the body, will be just another step on the Way -- the step by which we come into the unveiled presence of the Lord, to be for ever `with Christ, for that is far better' (Phil 1:23). `Beloved', writes John, `we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is' (1 Jn 3:2). Well may Paul cry exultantly, `O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?' (1 Cor 15:55 AV).
The end of the Way in this life is to be the beginning of the ultimate reality. God's saints have always known this. As a great and wonderful and sure truth it became clear in Christ, to be seen by all who are willing to see. But long before then, the Psalmist had glimpsed the vision saved up for the great awakening: `I shall see thy face, and be blest with a vision
of thee when I awake' (Ps 17:15 NEB).
Yea thro' life, death, thro' sorrow and thro' sinning
He shall suffice me, for he hath sufficed:
Christ is the end, for Christ was the beginning,
Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ.
F W H Myers, St Paul
Further reading: The references in the text, but especially: 1 Cor 15:51-58. 2 Cor 4:16-5:9. 1 Jn 3:1-3.