Better is One Day
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Psalm 84:10 – “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
Three years ago today, my friend, my brother and my colleague, Phil Adcock won the victory and went home to be with the Lord. I originally wrote that three years ago today I lost…..but I had to change it because we didn’t lose Phil, the truth of the matter is that we will see him again. And the next time we see him will be in a far better place than where we are now.
He and I spent a lot of time together. We visited together, we prayed together, we studied God’s word together, we laughed together, we played basketball together (he only had one leg but several times he blocked my shot and just smiled), we ate together, and most importantly we worshipped together.
I miss those times and I miss that relationship. I am however thankful for the time that we had together. I only knew him for 3 years but it seemed as if we knew each other our whole lives. Before I came to pastor the church where I am now and Phil was preaching at the 9am service and handling a lot of the visitation and administration duties, we talked for 3 hours on the phone. 3 hours! I’m not a talking on the phone type of person, but he and I had an instant bond.
That conversation was followed by a few more before my wife and I moved to east Tennessee. After we got here those conversations happened almost every day. For that I am thankful. Shortly after moving here, Phil officially became our Associate Pastor. Our conversations became even deeper then.
And then the day that I will never forget, the day in which he was diagnosed with cancer. I was visiting at my mom and dad’s house and he called me on the phone and told me the news. We talked about it and we prayed, and I remember thinking everything was going to be ok.
That day marked the beginning of a battle that he won over a year later on February 27, 2010. When Phil and I talked about the battle and about what could happen, he always told me, “either way I win”. And of course what he meant was if I beat cancer I win, and if not I really win because I go home to be with the Lord.
He was right. 1 Corinthians 15:54 says, “then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory'”. On this date three years ago, Phil was given the victory by our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57). I told him on the day he was diagnosed that he was going to be ok. I was wrong,because today he is far better than ok. He is alive and perfectly well not just ok. Death has been swallowed up as has sickness, and because Jesus is alive, Phil is alive.
Isaiah 25:8 has become one of my favorite verses in the Bible, “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces.” We serve an amazing God, a God who destroys death and gives us life. That is His grace, the sin of our ancestors in Genesis 3 caused death to come into the world, and certainly we are sinners and guilty as well. We made death come in, but God in His grace gives us life. He swallows up death forever and through Jesus we become victorious even over death.
Phil used to passionately sing in worship, “better is one day in your courts better is one day in your house, better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere.” I can’t hear that song without thinking of him. I believe wholeheartedly the words of that song, but he fully knows them today doesn’t he?
He knows them because he is in that place. He is in the courts of Almighty God worshipping Him and praising Him and doing more than we can ever imagine. Fully healed, victorious, with a huge smile and a laugh. I miss him but I don’t wish him back here, because he has it far better than we do. His faith has now become sight and he has seen the Jesus who made it all possible. The Jesus who died on the cross to pay for Phil’s sins and mine (and yours). He is in the presence of God, and God says, “in my presence there is of joy.” Phil knows fullness of joy today.
We don’t do we? We get glimpses but we don’t know joy in all its fullness. We still struggle with sin and we still deal with difficulties and pain. We still weep, but all the while God in His Fatherly love is “wiping away every tear from our eyes.”
Phil is experiencing fullness of joy, we aren’t. But one day we will be as we too are given the victory and as we see death swallowed up forever. I look forward to that day. But while I am here I will sing and I will believe, Better is One Day in the presence of God, so let us live each day while we are here in the presence of God, the one who through His grace and love gives us the victory both now and forever.