In memory of Brother Ike’s departure

Published 9:10 am Friday, January 19, 2018


As a pastor, I have often stood at the bedside of friends and family members and watched their departure from this world into the next! For a child of God, this is one of the most peaceful events in life. Last Friday, Jan. 12, one of my church members (who was also a wonderful friend to me) made his departure. Ike Price attended my church for seven years, and during that time, we grew very close. He was a tall man with a scruffy face, and he did not mind to pull you close into a huge bear hug at the back door of the church. We rode our motorcycles together many times, and we certainly enjoyed each other’s company. His smile and laughter were contagious! I knew he loved me, and I know he knew I loved him too.
I was at work when I received the call that he was taking his last breaths, and he wanted me to pray with him over the phone. I begin to pray, and I asked Jesus to reach out his hand, and to take Ike by the hand and lead him home. Ike was only 62 years old, but during his short life, he suffered tremendously from diabetes and gout. I knew he was preparing to walk into the presence of God, and would be freed from his bodily ailments and afflictions forever. In the middle of the prayer, a huge grin came across his face, and before I said amen, he took his last breath here, and his next breath there. I would like to share some thoughts from my studies about this process of departure for a child of God.
The Bible says in Psalms 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” What is so precious about the departure of God’s children? The apostle Paul uses the word departure in 2 Timothy 4:6, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” Paul is telling young Timothy that he was prepared to be laid on the altar of God as an offering upon his death, and his departure was to be soon. I want to focus on the word departure during this article because it will give us insight to the process of death for a saint of God.
The word departure is an interesting word that can be viewed from many angles. It was a nautical term for untying a ship so that it could sail. Have you ever watched a ship go over the horizon? You see it slip out of sight, but in truth, that ship is still sailing even though you can’t see it. You see, when a ship leaves a harbor, it will soon be entering another harbor. On this side we say goodbye; on the other side, someone is saying hello! What a beautiful picture of death. God reaches down and unties the ship for it to set sail, and we stand and watch until we can no longer see that person on this side of the horizon. At that moment, Ike is only gone from our sight, but that does not mean he ceases to exist. What a comfort to those watching their loved ones go out of sight! They are just entering a new harbor that is safe, and free from all pain, trouble, and trials!
Departure was a military term referring to taking down tents to move to another place. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:1, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” We fold up our temporal tent to move to an eternal home in the heavens. Everything in this world is temporary, but when we fold our tent for the last time, we are going to a place eternal. The last words of Robert E. Lee were “Strike the tents.” That is just what death is, a folding up of the earthly tent to make a journey elsewhere.
Departure was an agricultural term that meant the time of day when the farmer would take the yoke off the back of his farm animals. When he laid the burden off its back, agriculture uses the word departure to describe it. This is probably my favorite of the meanings of “departure.” In this life, we are yoked with sickness, troubles, trials, hurt, pain, and the list can go on and on, but when we depart we are liberated from all of that because the former things of this life have passed away. Heaven is a city with no tears!
Like a ship, my friend Ike sailed toward another port. Like a camper, he folded up his tent, and like an ox, he laid off his heavy burdens and bodily sickness. Praise God for the hope we have in Christ Jesus of a departure to a land far better than we can ever imagine! Jesus spoke this same way to his disciples: “If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). The Father in splendor is greater than the Son in suffering. What a liberation is coming when the Son’s work here is done, and he returns to the Father’s glory! So, he says, if you love me, rejoice at my departure. We should do the same when a saint of God departs for home.
In loving memory of Ike Glenn Price — November 16, 1956 – January 12, 2018
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton, and his associate, Hunter Greene.)

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