Absent from the Body and Present with the Lord :: By Candy Austin

Absent from the Body and Present with the Lord :: By Candy Austin

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| PentecostalTheology.com

In a changing world where people are becoming more and more unfriendly, unkind, and just plain downright rude, it is pretty rare to find a person who will leave mainly positive impressions and memories behind. Throughout my lifetime, only about a dozen or so people have left such a fond imprint, which is why I would like to introduce this ‘special someone’ today.

Proverbs 31:28-30 “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”

Out of all of the Pastor’s Wives I have ever met and/or known, there is one that stands out to me, hands down, above them all. For this piece, we will call this exceptional lady ‘Mrs. Gem.’ As an impressionable 12-year-old at a small Southern Baptist Church back in the late 80s is when I first met Mrs. Gem. From what I came to learn about her was that she had 4 children (3 boys and 1 girl), all older than me, but 2 of them were closer to my age range.

In a household of mainly males, Mrs. Gem and her daughter had a very special bond seeing how they were always very close, inseparable even, like two very best friends. Mrs. Gem was witty, kind, thoughtful, and generous. Sunday mornings at church, she would offer everyone coming in to breakfast drinks and donuts that she had brought. Mrs. Gem was someone who would go out of her way to make sure everyone felt comfortable and content.

By the time I was in my 20s, it was made known that Mrs. Gem had a breast cancer battle on her hands, but by God’s Providential Hand, she far outlived the doctor’s timeline and prognosis. Her testimony concerning the ‘lowest point in her cancer battle’ went (to the best of my memory) something like this: On one particularly gloomy winter day when all seemed unhopefully grim, she sat prayerfully and tearfully by her living room window asking God for some sort of ‘sign’ that she would have even just a little more time to live.

Suddenly, and out of nowhere, a beautiful red Cardinal landed on her windowsill and seemed to just stay there and look at her. From that moment on, she took that red bird as a sign that God had answered her prayer! Mrs. Gem came to adore Cardinals, so much so that she decorated most of her house with these beautiful Hallmark Brand red birds complete with the greenery, frost, and winter berries as a ‘constant reminder’ that God had spoken to her that day.

Matthew 6:26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”

During her years of experiential medical trials, hair loss, wigs, chemo, debilitating sickness, and extended remission, Mrs. Gem remained her ‘kind and beautiful self.’ For example, before our wedding, she went out of her way to spend time at the church to decorate for us — with large and small details such as a huge white heart arch on the altar, to putting our names and date on the wall in the reception hall in red (which matched my red rose bouquet color theme). All these years later, her thoughtfulness and generosity are still fondly remembered and appreciated.

Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

Throughout my 20s and until my mid-30s, I was a Sign Language Interpreter off and on for several years at her husband’s church. One Sunday, after a particular song special in sign language, Mrs. Gem made a point to tell me with a tear in her eye, “Girl, I want you to perform at my funeral.” I replied by saying that I hoped it would ‘not be for a very long time because we still want you around.’

Thank the Lord, we had a few more years with Mrs. Gem, such as the memory of one of the last Fall mornings we spent at her house where she held a Ladies’ Bruncheon. Even though the delicious fare was sprawled out all along her beautifully decorated dining table, this event was a ‘particularly emotional’ one.

Especially after hearing Mrs. Gem gently lay out that she was beginning to get weaker and frailer at that point, some of us around the table felt led then to share our thoughts, feelings, and prayers. Some ladies quietly sat and listened, while some others tearfully relayed how grateful they were to be there that day, how evidently God had taken care of her, and how much we would miss her. Even during a somber time like that, Mrs. Gem had such a joy and a love for the Lord that one couldn’t help but tell it just by watching the way she smiled and in listening to the way she spoke about our Lord and His care.

Twelve extra years of life after Abba Father responded to Mrs. Gem by sending that red Cardinal to her windowsill, the time came for Him to call her home. Even still, it was a shock to get the call that Mrs. Gem had passed away. While her husband (the Pastor), the church, and her 4 children were making preparations for Mrs. Gem’s funeral, I relayed to them how she wanted me to perform a song in sign language for her service. They agreed (especially her daughter) that it would be a touching way to portray her favorite song.

Here is Mrs. Gem’s favorite song (His Eye is on the Sparrow):

His Eye Is On The Sparrow – Sandi Patty (with Lyrics)

Why should I feel discouraged
Why should the shadows come
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for heaven and home
When Jesus is my portion
My constant friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me

Whenever I am tempted
Whenever clouds arise
When songs give way to sighing
And hope within me dies
I draw closer to Him
From care He sets me free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me

I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches
Yes, I know He watches
I know He’s watching over me

At the funeral, there was nothing but fond words, scripture, humorous gestures, precious memories, and remembrance of Mrs. Gem serving the Lord and others during her lifetime. It is safe to say that there was not a dry eye in the whole congregation. It was an honor to get on that platform, albeit nervously, and perform this beautiful song in sign language for Mrs. Gem as her body lay in the casket below during this large church gathering.

She is someone I will never forget, and I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to learn what a ‘Proverbs 31 Woman’ looked like in real life from the time I met her as an impressionable 12-year-old. She no doubt touched so many lives, and the ripple effects of her generosity, warmth, and kindness continue on, even to this day.

2 Corinthians 5:8 “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

Like one of her sons, who also went on to become a Pastor, said during the funeral preparations, “Mom is now absent from the body and now present with the Lord.” For sure, it was an ‘awesome homecoming’ for Mrs. Gem!

What does it mean to be absent from the body? | GotQuestions.org

The phrase “absent from the body” is found in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8. Paul states that he is confident in his eternal destiny and longs for the day when he can be “absent from the body” and be present with the Lord he loves and serves. To be “absent” from one’s body simply means to die because, at death, the spirit is separated from the body and moves into its eternal abode—either heaven with the Lord or hell, separated from God for eternity.

In the same way, Christians are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the presence of God. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. When a born-again believer dies, his soul goes immediately into the presence of the Lord. There, the soul consciously awaits the resurrection of the body. To the church at Philippi, Paul wrote from a Roman prison:

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:21-24).

Paul’s desire in life was to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. If he lived, he could continue to labor for the Lord. If he faced execution, he would depart this life and be with Christ. He desired to be with his Savior, but if he remained on earth, he could continue to minister to others.

There are some who believe in soul sleep, meaning that when a person dies, his body and soul sleep in the grave, awaiting the resurrection. But if this were true, why would Paul not want to live to minister as long as possible rather than sleep in a grave? And if it were true that the body and soul are never separated, it would be impossible to ever be absent from the body and present with the Lord.

We conclude, then, that believers who die are indeed absent from their physical bodies and present with the Lord in conscious bliss, awaiting that grand resurrection day! – End Source

Until we meet again, Maranatha!

Sincerely & In Christ,

Candy Austin

The post Absent from the Body and Present with the Lord :: By Candy Austin appeared first on Rapture Ready.

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