My husband of 40 years and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church for almost 29 years, Rev. Gary A. Miller, went to his heavenly home on January 4, 2021. I avoid using the term “died” and this post will explain why.
I have had a little over a month to process this. And, while the impact of it hasn’t even yet fully hit me, I have already experienced how my life has been forever altered. Many of you know that Gary had faced many health challenges over the last six years. But being the man of God that he was, he faced each one standing on his faith in God to get him through. And when he did all that he could do to stand, he stood some more. Although together we, along with many of you, were believing for his healing here on earth, Gary always longed for and often spoke of what it would be like in heaven and to obtain his glorified body – a body that is free from the burden of earthly limitations, struggles and corruption. When you inhabit a healthy body, you might not often think about that. But when your body seems to be failing you at every turn, I can imagine the enticement of heaven and a new body free of pain and sickness might often cross your mind. As a believer in Jesus Christ, you always have that to look forward to. One way or another you will receive your healing. I want to share a scripture with you that brings me a lot of comfort. And of all people to share it with me, it was Gary himself who did. Gary had pens and pads all over the place so that when God spoke to him, he would write it down so he wouldn’t forget. I recently found a small piece of paper on his dresser with several scriptures written on it so I decided to look them up to get a glimpse of what God may have been speaking to him. The verses were all about leaving this world behind and entering into our forever home with the Lord and inhabiting a brand new body. One particular passage ministered deeply to my spirit as I now have a reason to meditate on it, as I’m sure Gary did. It is II Corinthians 5:1-4 and this is the New Living Translation:
“1 For 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 and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. 4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.”
I know that I have done my fair share of groaning and sighing in this earthly body. And I suspect many of you have done the same. But can you imagine this – one day, taking off the old body as a garment and slipping into a brand new one specially tailored for you by God Himself! The NLT puts it this way – “our dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.”! We will not be experiencing death but we will be swallowed up by life! On January 4th, 2021 at 9:16 a.m. my husband did not die! He was swallowed up by life! He cast off his corruptible body and was clothed by God with an eternal glorified body! Never again to endure hardship, pain, suffering or corruption!
I believe what kept my husband going through all the hardships his body had faced over the last six years was that he got a glimpse of what God had in store for him, and, knowing that the physical body that was failing him was only temporary. His forever glorified house was ahead! The Message Bible puts such vivid imagery to it:
” For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade —and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.” II Cor. 5:1-7
Gary walked by faith not by sight. He kept his eye on the prize. God put a little of heaven in his heart. He was able to see past this natural realm and gaze into the spirit realm despite what his body was telling him. I suppose there were moments of sadness, disappointment and even fear that would attempt to force their way into his mind and heart. But he would never allow that to settle.
If you can have an earthly hero, Gary was mine. His life was a living example of a man after God’s own heart. He loved God with all his strength, soul and spirit. And that’s what made him such a wonderful man, husband and father. He was a servant as well as a shepherd. And if you believe in soulmates, Gary was mine. I was blessed by God to have him in my life for over 40 years. And I’m sure the first thing he heard from his Savior were these words – “well done my good and faithful servant”!
From a very blessed and grateful wife, Robin