TRANSFORMATION AT DEATH
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"We will all be changed." 1 Corinthians 15:52
Another glimpse, beneath the palm-trees of the distant
horizon, bringing with it a restful and tranquilizing assurance.
How many are led, from time to time, to anxiously ponder
with all sincerity—'How can we, with all our wretched frailties and
shortcomings, our memories of guilt and backsliding—with some, it may be,
the remembrance of scarlet and crimson stains—dream of admission into the
world of untarnished purity, undimmed and undefiled by the intrusion of one
unhallowed thought? How can we, ragged, sin-stricken, woe-worn, desert
travelers, be fitted for the angel-life and angel-service of the Heavenly
I answer—A glorious change will pass on your now
partially renovated spirits, at death. "What we will be has not yet been
made known. But when He appears, we know that we shall be like Him, for we
shall see Him as He is." These, at present, drooping, lagging, "unfit"
souls, will, by a transforming process which we cannot now begin to imagine
or comprehend, be made fit for the holy presence and enjoyment of a holy
Go to the garden, from which winter has just been
removing its icy mantle—and over which the first breath of genial spring has
been passing. Watch on the gravel-walk or nestling on the rockery, that
repulsive insect (a caterpilar)—you half wonder how God, the infinite
Architect, in the plenitude of His skill, could not have devised something
more beautiful than this little mass of inert life! But bend your steps to
that same sunny nook when the balmy breezes of a July morning are wafting
by. What do you see now? That forbidding chrysalis has unlocked its
secret—that tiny prison-house has sent forth a joyous captive, radiant with
beauty. See it with spangled body and golden wings, reveling amid the
luscious sweets and the play of sunshine—each flower opening its cup and
making it welcome to its daintiest treasures.
What a feeble image of the transformed, metamorphosed
spirit, in that hour when, life's winter's storms all past, it bursts its
prison-bars—"leaves its encumbering clay;" and, gifted with angel-wings,
soars aloft to summer in the bliss of the beatific presence! "O you of
little faith, why do you doubt?" "God will fulfill His purpose for you." In
that last solemn moment—"in the twinkling of an eye"—He will fit you, by
"the working of His mighty power," for taking your place among the spirits
of the just made perfect, and for being one of the rejoicing multitude who
are "without fault before the throne."
Bunyan represents Mr. Feeble-mind and Mr. Ready-to-halt,
after all their fearful thoughts, as safe at last. He describes the
post as sounding his horn at their chamber doors. "I have come to you," says
the postman, addressing the latter—"I have come to you from Christ, whom you
have followed on crutches. He expects you at His table to dine with Him in
His kingdom;" and then he pictures him, on reaching the brink of the river,
as throwing away his crutches. So will it be with many of God's true people,
who are indulging needless apprehensions, "because of the oppression
of the enemy." If fearful now, the day is coming, the day of the great
gathering of souls, when, like the pilgrim Hebrews of old, you will stand
triumphant on yonder shore, exulting in the truth of your Heavenly Father's
assurance, which you may at present be so slow to credit—"The enemies you
see today you will never see again." You may now be wailing, in notes of
sadness, your weakness and feebleness. Like some captive bird, you may think
that your wings are disabled, your energies paralyzed, your song silenced.
But not so. In God's own time the cage will be opened, and on newborn wings
of faith and love, you will go singing to the gate of Paradise, and catch up
the melody of kindred song wafted from its groves of bliss!
Paul's spiritual experience, as that of many, was
reflected figuratively in one of the most memorable incidents of his human
life. For successive days and nights he was buffeted with winds and waves
and darkness on the Adriatic Sea, "When neither sun nor stars appeared for
many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of
being saved" (Acts 27:20). But what is his closing entry in that record of
imminent peril? "Everyone reached land in safety" (ver. 44).
"O wretched man that I am!"—breathes out in another place
"that strong swimmer in his agony," as he is breasting the moral and
spiritual current which threatens to bear him down—"who shall deliver me
from the body of this death?" But knowing that his, at last, will be sure
deliverance and triumph, the accents of faith are heard loud above surge and
flood—"I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 8:24, 25). As if he
said, 'He will deliver me; He will save me. He will "transform this lowly
body so that it will be like His glorious body." He will change this vile
soul and transform it into His own image from glory to glory. The storm of
the stormiest life will then be changed into a calm!'
"After tired tossing,
Fighting with foam;
After waves dashing,
Haven and home.
Healing and balm;
After winds warring,
Quiet and calm.
"After hard rowing,
Resting the hand;
After long sowing,
Reaping the land.
"After dark dungeon,
The hill-top free;
After earth, heaven—
What will it be?
"When the shaded pilgrim land
Fades before my closing eye,
Then revealed on either hand
Heaven's own scenery shall lie.
Then the veil of flesh shall fall,
Now concealing, darkening all.
"When upon my wearied ear
Earth's last echoes faintly die;
Then shall angel harps draw near
All the chorus of the sky.
Long-hushed voices blend again,
Sweetly in that welcome strain.
"Here were sweet and varied tones,
Bird, and breeze, and fountain's fall,
Yet creations travail-groans
Ever sadly sighed through all;
There no discord jars the air,
Harmony is perfect there.
"Here devotion's healing balm
Often came to soothe my breast,
Hours of deep and holy calm,
Pledges of eternal rest.
But the bliss was here unknown
Which shall there be all my own."
"Then they were glad when it grew calm, and He guided
them to their desired haven."