17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:17-18

And so we will always be with the Lord. Not most of the time. Not sometimes. Not most likely. Always. What a strong promise. That word always – so full of hope, security, excitement.

The promise of forever lifts our spirits and breathes life into our souls. It can carry us and motivate us. But it can also seem far off. Always can seem like forever away. But we have the presence of the Holy Spirit now. Our hope is a living hope. It is both a future hope and a present reality.

Recently a friend paraphrased a quote by Dallas Willard that went something like this: “One of our jobs in this life is to become so familiar with God that there’s no big change when we die.” Oh, to have that mission in life. As believers who have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, it’s possible to have such close communion with Him! We have the incredible blessing of walking with Him, talking with Him daily. Unlike the God-fearers of the Old Testament who experienced the coming and going of the Spirit of God, He is here to stay. The Holy Spirit is our permanent gift. Our companion, our friend, our guide and our counselor.

Through Him we can have courage always. We can be encouraged by the “always” of our abiding with Jesus in eternity, and we can live today in the joy of His presence though the always of Heaven hasn’t come just yet.

Abide With Me by Matt Redman is a familiar song to our congregation. Perhaps today you listen again, letting the lyrics encourage you anew as you reflect on our living hope.

By Ellen Rosenberger 

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