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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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From Gloom to Gladness

If you've read any of Mark Twain's famous Adventures of Tom Sawyer you know that he (Sawyer) was quite the prankster. One time Sawyer convinced friends Huck Finn and Joe Harper to run away. By cover of night, the three left their homes, snuck down to the river, and set out down-river on a raft. They end up on Jackson's Island where they fish and swim and have a jolly good old time for several days. Meanwhile, back at home, three families are in state of near hysteria. After a few days they conclude the boys have drowned, and plan their funeral the following Sunday. Tom quietly returns to town and discovers the plans for the funeral. He clandestinely returns to the island where he convinces Huck and Joe they should all stay put until the end of the week when they will return to town and march in on their own funerals. On Sunday almost the entire town gathers at the church building where the preacher leads the sad and grieving crowd in eulogizing and mourning the poor boys whom death has claimed so early in life. Twain tells us that the congregation became more and more moved till the whole company broke down and joined the weeping mourners in a chorus of anguished sobs. Twain described the scene as the supposedly dead boys crash the funeral (chapter 17 of Tom Sawyer): "There was a rustle in the gallery (balcony). . . a moment later the church door creaked; the minister raised his streaming eyes above his handkerchief, and stood transfixed! First one and then another pair of eyes followed the minister's, and then almost with one impulse the congregation rose and stared while the three dead boys came marching up the aisle. . . .They had been in the unused gallery listening to their own funeral sermon!" You don't have to guess what happened next as the boys were smothered with kisses and hugs and the gloomy atmosphere turned to one of ecstacy and joy!

Can you imagine the day when God robs the grave once and for all and buries death itself? The Bible invites us to do just that when it promises "death will be swallowed up in victory" as we finally defeat death and the grave through our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)!! John the apostle stretches our minds with his apocalyptic description of the day of judgement when "Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14). Can you imagine the death of death itself and the day Jesus Christ presides over the funeral of death and the devil and buries them in the lake of fire?! Can you imagine a place where there are "no graves on the hillsides of glory," no more death or sorrow or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4)?! God not only wants us to imagine it, He wants us to accept it and anticipate it. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we can rejoice that, for those who die in Christ, the gloom of the tomb will one day be turned into eternal gladness and joy! Oh what a glorious day that will be!  Wherefore comfort one another with these words 1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ