Subject: Celebrating the Physical Death of a Saint (#Jordanlives)
Isaiah 61:3 “They may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
Jordan Swearngin is my friend, but that’s not so unusual to be friends with people much younger or older than you because when you are a Christian there is a bond that transcends gender, color or social status. It’s called the ‘body of Christ.’ If you are reading this and don’t know what I mean… that’s because the source of that kind of love for one another can only be found in Jesus Christ, who is the one who lives in Jordan, gave her that love for others, and called her back to Him a week ago.
Jordan is very unusual though from the other teenagers I know. She wasn’t interested in being at Bible study to just socialize. She had questions – lots of them. And she brought friends. She often brought one particular young woman whom she told me really needed to hear more about Jesus and how He changes lives. And she told me her friend had lots of questions. We would talk about them in class. And then Jordan would always follow up with me to let me know where I made sense to her and her friend, where I could work to make things clearer, what I needed to pray for, to help her friend see her need for Jesus Christ.
You don’t come across many Jordans nowadays. Sometimes I have to wonder if the Lord plants young people like her on earth to make specific impacts on specific people – and then He calls them back to Him where ultimately all people who know Him will be – in heaven by His side.
I say this because one of her favorite bible sections between her and I was Isaiah 61:1-3, that talks specifically about the mission of the future Messiah. It’s the very first words Jesus spoke in His first sermon, in the gospel of Luke (chapter 4, verses 16-19). It’s all about how God plants people on earth to do His will, so that He is glorified by how they live their lives in front of others. It goes like this:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn. To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning. To give them the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may be called tress of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
The biblical notion of being a tree planted by God, which He personally nourishes and cultivates into maturity, runs throughout the Bible. Consider the very first Psalm of David: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also does not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:1-3, 1000 BC).
Or how about the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8, 600 BC).
Why does the Bible give us these pictures of for spiritual growth under our heavenly Father’s care? To help finite creatures like you and I better understand the character of an infinite personal Creator, who made us not only to be His children but to radiate glory in a way that showcases His character.
Proverbs 17:6 says it best: “…the glory of children is their father.” If you are one of the fortunate ones to have grown up in a household with a father who loves you and always wants the best for you, you understand what this proverb means. The conduct you demonstrate to those you come in contact with originates from your inward character, which was planted and cultivated by your loving father as he raised you. Your glory which you are radiating in your life originated with your father’s values, which you have internalized as your own as you grew like a planted tree from childhood to adulthood.
Jordan is a planting of the Lord while she was here on earth, and the Lord of heaven and earth is very well pleased with the glory she brought Him. He is telling her, and she is a witness to this, every day for eternity. Of course, I might be wrong… I guess I have to wait and ask her when I see her again.