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2 Corinthians 5:1-10
We know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself (2 Corinthians 5:1).

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Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-9 to see why believers in Jesus can have great hope even in death.

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Do you have confidence that one day you’ll be “at home with” Jesus? Why or why not? How does my mother’s experience and Paul’s words give you hope?

I had the heart-wrenching, joyous, bittersweet experience of losing my dad on January 6, 2012—his birthday. Our loss was truly his gain! He had been battling rapidly deteriorating health before God graciously took him home.

A mysterious thing happened at the time of his death. While Dad was still breathing, my mother—who had been holding his hand and tenderly kissing him—turned and said, “He’s gone, he’s gone . . . I know it. I can go back home now.” She then slowly stepped from the care facility room and began walking down the hall. My sister, who had continued to watch Dad, suddenly noticed his chest rise and fall for the last time.

How did Mom know Dad was “gone” even as his body continued to function? Two things come to mind: We’re spiritual beings; and she had been his bride for many years. She knew his presence.

In 2 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul wrote about something we experienced that night. He said that each of our bodies is an “earthly tent” (2 Corinthians 5:1) and that when we leave this life “we will be at home with our Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Paul, who recognized the frailty of his own “tent” as he battled hardships in Ephesus (2 Corinthians 1:8-11), looked with confident hope to a glorious future with his resurrected Savior—being with Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; Philippians 3:20-21).

Why did Paul have such hope? He wrote, “We know that God who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us . . . to Himself” (2 Corinthians 4:14). He knew that, in time, we who believe in Jesus will have “an eternal body made for us by God Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Somehow my mom knew that Dad had departed. But she also confidently knew where he had gone.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Acts 20:1-20

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20 Responses to ““he’s gone””

  1. roxanne robbins says:

    What a beautiful testimony to the hope we can have through Jesus.

  2. mike says:

    Thank you for sharing a part of your life with us.

    I love the reality that we can be confident in Christ both in our daily walk and in our dying breath.

    Blessings

    • tom felten says:

      “Confident . . . in our daily walk and in our dying breath.” I love how you stated that, Mike. It’s inspiring to remember Jesus’ words on the cross just prior to His death: “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” (Luke 23:46).

  3. mike wittmer says:

    What a powerfully moving story! It’s also extremely sad, to think that your mom ever had to say goodbye to the man she loved. But as you say, this sets up our hope in our resurrection when Jesus returns. What a blessed hope!

    • tom felten says:

      Mike, you’re right, the grief caused by losing someone to death can be overwhelming. I have a friend right now who is experiencing that sad reality. May she, along with all of us, be encouraged by the words of Revelation 21:3-4: “Look, God’s home is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

  4. jennifer benson schuldt says:

    Tom,

    Thank you for reminding us that this world is not all there is. Our days here are just a blip on a timeline, but our time in heaven will go on and on. I so appreciated this story, and the reference to Romans 15:13.

    Jen

  5. GChoo says:

    Tom, thank you for sharing your story with us. That special peace knowing where we and our loved ones will go when we put our trust in The one and only God and Creator. God bless.

  6. daisymarygoldr says:

    Tom, thanks for sharing! It is truly touching. Although we grieve the loss of loved ones, our grief is filled with hope. To those who are saved, death—is like going home. “Gone” to us is “arrived safely home” for our departed loved ones. And we “would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8 NIV).

  7. tom felten says:

    Great verse, daisymarygoldr. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  8. lhoriz says:

    Thanks for posting!!
    very inspiring :)

  9. tom felten says:

    lhoriz, praise God for His inspiring ways!

  10. fish4031 says:

    I experienced this myself this past October 27th when my own father went home to be with the Lord. I was on the way to the hospice facility in Austell, GA. My sister was there with my mother and she was holding Dad’s hand as he was laboring to breath. She told him it was alright to let go and she said he got a big smile on his face as he went on. I think he was smiling because he saw Jesus waiting with his mother, father and brother to welcome him into Heaven.

  11. ameliarhodes says:

    Tom, thank you for sharing this. Your parents are some of the sweetest people I’ve ever known. I’ll always be thankful for their generosity and the role they played in our lives. What a legacy your Dad left!

  12. heather37 says:

    I lost my dad also to a drawn out sickness, watching him deteriate for 5 long years. I have carried so much guilt for not going to the hospital after receiving a phone call from my sister that he would not make it through the night. I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing him laying in the hospital bed, dying. Dad died a few minutes after my sister got to his bedside. I miss his physical presence so much, it still brings pain to my heart. Dad has come to me in my dreams. I believe to let me know he’s okay and is being taken care of. I am finding peace knowing he is with our Savior. But still so very difficult.

    • tom felten says:

      Heather, thanks so much for sharing. I, too, miss my Dad and his loving presence. I’m so glad you’re experiencing peace in knowing that your father is with Jesus. When we have known the beauty of love in this life, the sting of losing that love will always be there. It’s a reminder, however, that we will one day once again be with those who have loved God and us. May you experience real peace and sweet memories of your Dad this Christmas. Peace.

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