How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and the joy he gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives.
As we sang these words last night at our service of praise, I just had a huge “catch” in my heart and voice. Realizing the depth of the uncertainty that lies in our tolerant, morally unfettered world, I know that the newborn I will prayerfully hold this week, will face uncertain days. I immediately thought about how that my sweet father, who left this uncertain world last December, would have loved to have held the firstborn child of his firstborn grandson. (That’s my dad in the picture with Caleb all those years ago.) Their lives on this earth almost intersected. In truth, the lives did intersect. For a few days at the end of Dad’s life, both the brand new heart and the 95-year-old one were beating. Dad just never got to know about this intersection of life. Singing those words—any words, really—about the great hope we share with most of you who are reading, just arrests my emotions, of late. I had to stop singing and cry for a moment.
But then, there’s this last empowering verse and chorus. It’s the chorus that dries tears, replaces fears, and lets me sing again:
And then one day, I’ll cross that river
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns.
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because He lives.
The truth is, by faith, I already know He reigns. Because He has made death His last enemy (I Cor. 15:25,26)…because the angel announced truthfully “He is not here, but He is risen,” (Matthew 28:6)…little Maggie can face uncertain days. She will face them with a fearless devotion to the One who has the last word over every enemy.
Because He lives, the verses of life that bring sorrow are followed by verses that bring courage and anticipation. Of course, the last verse is the best. After the days in an uncertain world, where persecution surely could be a part of the landscape for Christians, there will be a day when pain and death give way to victory. We will see the lights of glory and fear will be a thing of the past.
There are actually a couple of families, to whom I am very closely connected in Him, that are almost sure to be holding newborn babies by the end of this week. We will count their fingers and toes and marvel at the softness of newborn skin and try to catch the gaze of eyes that can’t yet focus. Proud fathers and grandfathers will be amazed by features that are most certainly inherited from “our side of the family.” But the real marvel will be the unseen feature housed in those tiny little bodies; little souls entrusted to the care of determined parents, who by faith can already catch a glimmer of the lights of glory…just because He lives!
There’s nothing new in the power of those three words “because He lives.” But sometimes, when I think about the decisive eternal victory that happened when that stone was rolled away and linen grave clothes were folded and left behind, I wonder how people, who have not looked into the empty tomb, can make it through the uncertain days. How can they overcome days of hopelessness when there is no light at the end of the tunnel? How can they bury loved ones and then “get on with things”, when the reality of death, for them, holds such finality? How can they ever “come back” from reeling reversals in health or finances, when they see no larger purpose than remaining healthy and wealthy? How can they suffer through the woes of bad moral choices, when there is, for them, no system of redemption?
I guess they just function out of “expected normalcy” and take temporary joy from the blessings that our God generously rains down on both the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). But I’m so glad there’s a whole different shower of blessings for obedient believers. I love standing in that rain!
One day, when we’ve been there ten thousand years (if time could even be measured there), the little intersections of life on this planet will seem so momentary. Our lives on earth will be the tiniest dot in an eternal sphere. But the choices in this brief moment we call life—our reaction to His empty tomb— make the dot remarkable. That makes the week (on the dot) in front of you and me significant. May the transactions, blessings, meetings, gifts, jobs, accomplishments, friendships and family that fill our planners this week be appropriate reactions to the victory He heralded when he walked away from that borrowed tomb. Some events of the week will seem more significant than others. But life matters, this week, for all of us. Because He lives.
(Because He Lives, lyrics by Bill Gaither, Songs of Faith and Praise)