Your laying in the hospital bed, the doctors have placed within the veins of your arm an I.V. that contains a small amount of pain medicine to keep you comfortable, family and friends surround the bedside. Some have a knowing look of the finality of the moment, knowing that this day was coming for a long time, not wanting you to leave, but knowing you have lived a full life and that there is no pain, and in a small way this gives them comfort. Others cannot stop weeping, their loss is great, extreme sorrow fills their faces, and the tears abound. You are prepared, as best as any can prepare.
There is laughter in the house, the television is turned off, children placed in their beds, and the comforting sounds of the silence of a well-known home surround you as your drift off to sleep. Two a.m., there is a pain, severe, all encompassing, like an incredible weight has been placed upon your chest. Your breathing becomes more than difficult, it is impossible to raise your arms to reach for the spouse you have loved for so long to seek her help. Your mind screams, “Not yet, I’m not ready, please no, not yet!” One final incredible pain racks your entire body, lifting most of your frame off the bed.
The diagnosis is terminal, nothing more can be done, the end will come shortly, as soon as a few weeks at best. You look over at your loving husband and see tears of great loss and remarkable strength, the same strength that you have known for so very long, long before the prognosis. You are going home, and the Lord Jesus that you have loved for so long has been gracious enough to give you a forewarning, precious moments can be shared with those you love before your final day. Joy will resound, loss for themselves of course, for you will be sorely missed, but the knowledge that you will be reunited with all who have called Him Lord covers the temporary grief. You have prepared for this moment for many years, and you are ready to go.
Shall I go on my friends, shall I speak of the countless ways that death will arrive for each and everyone of us, the myriad of ways that ends the lives of all who have ever been and ever will be, until death is cast into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:14) He will come for all the lost, and he will be sent to the children of God, the question is, not only how will you receive him, but are you prepared for his arrival. Far too many who profess Christ as Lord are seeking a long life instead of a life well spent, how many who seek for length of days seek for them for the glory of God, how many are prepared at every moment of every day to meet Him, and how many are there that are searching for ways to extend the time that they have been given, as if that were possible, so that they can have just one more day.
Would that extra day be given in its totality to the glory of God, would everyone you know need to be told of His wonderful mercies, His incredible grace, the promises that are waiting for those who have devoted their lives to Him, are you waiting for that day or hiding from it in fear. Which of you that have tasted the closeness of death will disagree here, that moment compels us, drives us to tell all that we meet that no one knows the moment that death will arrive for us, and so all need to be prepared at every hour for that arrival. I have been there, several times, and have known others who have also experienced this juncture in their lives, and each of those who know Christ as Lord have been invigorated to serve even greater because of it. Isn’t it amazing that the one thing that is common to all in life seems to need to be experienced in part before we will submit ourselves in whole to the Lord.
The fear of death is not unrealistic in itself, but the continual fear of his approach is, to hide from the inevitable even within our own minds, to think that life will be long and we will have plenty of time is one of the greatest traps of Satan, and many are there who have fallen into it. “You have plenty of time to serve God, let’s concentrate on those things that matter today, shall we. After all, you have a family to provide for, a life to be planned, He will be there to serve tomorrow.” The transitory, the things of the world are placed first, service can wait until Sunday, prayer does not pay the bills, hard work does, the Lord understands.
“For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” (Rom. 14:8) Is this true of you, are you truly living for Christ today, is nearly every thought you have based on whether or not what you are doing is pleasing to Christ, have you set the things and cares of the world aside, seeking first in every avenue of your life His kingdom and righteousness, are you able to discern the voice of the Holy spirit and willing to follow His leading, or are you still afraid of that final day. It never ceases to amaze me the number of Christians I meet that seem to be Christians only when things are going well, that seem to think that suffering is a curse from God instead of a blessing, that death is an unknown.
These are they that fear death, these fear beyond all comprehension that last moment, and not only in the form of its arrival, but in the loss of trust in where they will be after that juncture. I would ask you to really think upon a set of verses that seems to flow through my mind on a regular basis these days, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” (Phil. 1:21-24) We should be just as torn as Paul was at all times, our main desire is to be with the Lord, but until that time we are to serve.
One of the main things that many who profess Christ as Savior do not like to think about is that to be with Christ means that they have to die, and for some reason I have found very few on my journey thru life that want to discuss their deaths. Is it truly morbid to think upon our deaths on a regular basis, is it wrong to imagine that moment, to contemplate it with some form of regularity. Why do we fear so much that which will happen to all. If the Scriptures are true, and they are, then to die is gain, why would we fear that thing which will give us such great gain. The subject matter does not always revolve around the possible pain that may be associated with this event in our lives as much as it seems to travel around this sphere of trust. No one has ever come back to tell us of the wonders of heaven, no one has ever set foot there or even seen the front gates, as it were, no matter the books, movies, and accounts that you may have heard. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Heb. 9:27) The Lord Jesus is the only one, and from Him we are to gain the trust necessary to believe that the moment of our death is gain to us, and that He is going to be there at that moment with us.
My death, the death of my most loved wife, your death, will arrive at the exact point in time that the Lord has set for it, and in the exact way that He has chosen, our only response to this juncture in our lives should be that He would be glorified in that death, and that we would in no way dishonor him in it. If you fear death, in no matter what form the thoughts of the fear enter into your mind, then you are not trusting, and your view is still temporal, and not eternal.
Everlasting life awaits us, (John 3:16) we shall never taste the second death, (John 11:26) we have promises beyond our comprehension awaiting us for all eternity. “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11) It is nothing more than a door my friends, the final door before we will be with our Savior forevermore, and that thought should cast away all fear of that moment that awaits us all.