So shall it be at last, in that bright morning, When the soul waketh and life’s shadows flee; O in that hour, fairer than daylight dawning, Shall rise the glorious thought, I am with Thee. (Harriet Beecher Stowe 1855)
More and more I’m comforted with the understanding that dying is really just another awakening, a continuing of our conscious life. The experience is probably like something that happens to us in childhood—when we fall asleep in one room only to wake up in the morning in another, not remembering how we got there or who carried us.
And we also can be reassured by what the disciples experienced on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). Trusting wasn’t any easier for them than it is for us. They lost their trust at the crucifixion, only to get it back in the resurrection. But then the Lord ascended, and, because they couldn’t see him any more, they probably started to doubt and distrust what their own eyes had seen.
But this time they trusted enough to be obedient. They went to the Temple in Jerusalem and waited, just as the resurrected Jesus told them to do. Early Christians gathered in the morning to worship, and so I think this gathering was probably in the morning as well. And then the spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, came again to stir their hearts, this time in a way that sustained them throughout their lives.
And we’re never going to be abandoned either, never left to go it alone here or hereafter. When “life’s shadows flee,” we’ll awake to encounter another bright morning, one “fairer than daylight dawning,” just as Stowe described it. In a flood of love and inspiration, we’ll awake to our continuing consciousness, our “living soul” (Gen. 2:7). God’s tender presence and love will “still, still” surround us. We’ll say then as we say now, “I am with Thee.”