“So, Dr. Sproul is really dead?”
“Yes, my darling, I am sad to say that he is,” I replied mournfully, choking back the tears.
G sat quietly a few moments and I went back to eating my oatmeal, thinking of our beloved pastor when she again exclaimed,
“Oh. So he is like Faithful. He must have had chariots waiting to take him to heaven.”
I looked up in surprise. It had seemed to me that she very rarely paid attention when we read The Pilgrim’s Progress so I was taken aback by this connection.
“Yes, G…” I spoke hesitantly, striving to grasp the fullness of what she was saying. “…I guess he is just like Faithful…” She interrupted my pondering by continuing,
“Yeah, because Faithful believed in Jesus and when he was killed chariots came down from heaven and took him up to it.”
E, who had been sitting quietly at the table listening, now joined the conversation.
“He is now in the Celestial City! They took him to the Celestial City, G. I wish I could die so I could go there. That’s where Christian is trying to get to and Dr. Sproul is already there! I’m just so happy for him.”
Now I saw that there stood behind the multitude a chariot and a couple of horses, waiting for Faithful, who (so soon as his adversaries had despatched him) was taken up into it, and straightway was carried up through the clouds, with sound of trumpet, the nearest way to the Celestial Gate.
This was a conversation I had with my daughters around the breakfast table one morning last December, only days after our beloved Pastor, Dr. R.C. Sproul, went home to be with the Lord.
The conversation ended there but our thinking about it did not. It was one of many conversations we would have about Dr. Sproul, but the one that stands out most in my mind for its hope and comfort. When considering the ministry of Dr. Sproul, the comparison is insightful.
“Now, Faithful, play the man, speak for thy God:
Fear not the wickeds’ malice; nor their rod!
Speak boldly, man, the truth is on thy side:
Die for it, and to life in triumph ride.”
Oh, how comforting it was to me to be reminded by my 8 and 9-year-old, through the profound imagery in The Pilgrim’s Progress, of the hope that Dr. Sproul and all those who profess Christ have. That death, while hard for those left behind, is not the end. That Dr. Sproul, like Faithful, was a pilgrim on a journey to the Celestial City and is now there, in the presence of the Almighty God in Glory. And we too, who remain faithful, will also someday join him in Paradise.
Well, Faithful, thou hast faithfully profest
Unto thy Lord; with whom thou shalt be blest,
When faithless ones, with all their vain delights,
Are crying out under their hellish plights:
Sing, Faithful, sing, and let thy name survive;
For though they kill’d thee, thou art yet alive!