by Tim Hall
Will my soul be able to find its way home?
Though the practice has been around for some time, I had not seen it before. Gathered at a cemetery where a loved one’s remains were about to be interred, we witnessed a moving scene. One basket containing three white doves was opened; the doves flew overhead but did not depart. A second basket was opened and a single dove emerged. When the lone dove joined the three, they all flew out of sight.
A story was told as the birds flew away. The lone dove represented the soul of the departed loved one joining the Trinity. That solitary dove did not have to make its journey home alone, just as our loved one would not travel through eternity unattended.
The Bible doesn’t portray it exactly that way. Nowhere are we told that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit meet disembodied spirits to lead them to heaven. But there are elements of the visual parable that are true.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 was written before the dramatic announcement of Jesus’ resurrection, but it teaches truth: “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (NKJV). The physical body is laid to rest beneath the earth, or in some other way disposed. The spirit, however, makes a different journey.
Jesus gave more details in the story he told of a rich man and a beggar. (Whether an actual account or a parable, it teaches truth either way.) The beggar, a man named Lazarus, was one who pleased God. When he died, Jesus said, he “was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22). The rich man, who lived outside of God’s will, “was buried” and lifted up his eyes in a most uncomfortable situation (Luke 16:23).
How do homing pigeon (the more accurate description of those white doves) know their way home? The birds brought to the funeral had been transported many miles and across a mountain range. Experts have studied these birds and still have no clear explanation for this amazing ability. Yet our lack of understanding has not prevented us from using these birds as messengers in times of crisis.
How does the soul find its way home after death? Not much information is supplied by God’s word. There is no doubt, though, that God takes care of those who are his own. Those who are people after God’s own heart often wish, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” (Psalm 55:6). One day God will provide wings (of angels) for his people to enable their final voyage. Jesus’ story tells me that my soul will be safely and lovingly guided to the home I’ve long desired.
by Tim Hall