Had You Not Gone

Tomorrow is Ascension Thursday which marks the fortieth day after Easter Sunday and is the day we remember when Jesus led his disciples out to the Mount of Olives, and after giving last instructions, ascended up into heaven as Luke 24:50-53 and Acts 1:1-14 record.

The practical, encouraging, benefit of the ascension is oftentimes missed. The Heidelberg Catechsim explains the blessing in Question 49 which reads,

Q49. How does Christ’s ascension to heaven benefit us?
A. First, he pleads our cause in heaven in the presence of his Father. Second, we have our own flesh in heaven: a guarantee that Christ our head will take us, his members, to himself in heaven. Third, he sends his Spirit to us on earth as a further guarantee. By the Spirit’s power we make the goal of our lives, not earthly things, but the things above where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand.

The Ascension early on in my walk with Christ seemed a bit anticlimactic. Though it seemed to be an important day in the Scriptures and in the Gospels and Acts, I couldn’t really understand how it could be better. The Heidelberg Catechism answer helps me some. Over the years, the thought that my life is with Christ there even as he is with me here has grown to be of great value. Enjoy your Thursday. He holds you fast as an anchor beyond the veil.

Had you not gone away, ascended on high,
You would have remained and still be here;
The tale of your rising, none deny—
Proof forever, age to age, year to year.
Had you not gone our faith would now be sight,
And seeing, believing, for all could see;
You could heal, stop hate, give wisdom and light
So why ascend? Why go? Why leave us be?
I must go, and bear what’s finished to heav’n
Take your life with me, hide you in love
From whence I’ll rule, sit in royal session,
Pour out my Spirit of fire from above.
Secure as an anchor, I hold you fast
For you’re with me now, till I come at last.

© Randall Edwards 2017.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
artwork: James Tissot  (1836–1902), The Ascension; between 1886 and 1894; opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper.

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