On September 7, 2016 – 450 high school students from Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, Tennessee came to their beloved Latin and Bible teacher’s home to sing and worship with him and his wife outside his window. Their teacher, in the last weeks of a long battle with cancer, had no treatment options remaining. The subsequent video of this event has gone viral with an estimated 35 million hits having been picked up by the national news -ABC, Good Morning American and CNN.
Early Friday morning, September 15, 2016 Mr. Ellis slipped quietly from this life and into the Presence of the Lord whom he loved to worship…nor more pain, no more suffering but only rejoicing now in His glorious Presence. As a believer in Christ we know that when you breathe your last earthly breath you enter into the very Presence of Christ and are present with Him (II Corinthians 5:6). Those who also know Christ and remain have, in the midst of their deep grief, loss and sorrow, a quiet anticipation of being re-united with their loved ones in heaven.
I could not help but think about Ben Ellis Sunday morning as we sang the hymns of worship in my church. The words we were singing were now describing the very experience he was having. He had entered into the eternal worship of heaven singing praises to God unending and all the worship he did on earth was just a rehearsal for the real thing. Ben Ellis had been preparing. How glorious it must be to be there and know the reality of what only is hinted at on earth. I wish we could ask him.
“Lord, I come to your awesome presence from the shadows into your radiance…as we gaze on your kingly brightness, so our faces display your likeness. “
“My Jesus, My Savior, Lord, there is none like You; All of my days I want to praise the wonders of Your mighty love. "
“My comfort, my shelter, Tower of refuge and strength; Let every breath, all that I am never cease to worship You.”
For those remaining, we know these truths from Scripture:
* We know that all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16
* We know the Lord will accompany us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Psalm 23
* We know He will love and comfort and take care of our loved ones that we are leaving behind .Philippians 4:19
* We know that He has provided the body of Christ to accompany us … “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (II Corinthians. 1 3)
Ben Ellis left the legacy of loving others well. May God meet those he loved so deeply, his wife, his children, his family and friends who are grieving, with the comfort and Presence only Christ can give.
“Brother and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind who have no hope.” (I Thessalonians 4:13)
Photo credit: ABC News, Facebook Tim McGraw