A beloved 86-year old man in our church died this week. He was a gentleman who loved God, loved people, loved serving in the church. And even though he had been in poor health, his friends’ initial reaction has been shock. As if it is a surprising thing for an 86-year old man with heart trouble to die.
He died in the hospital, surrounded by family. His heart just finally ceased to beat. Not a bad way to go, if you ask me.
Why are people always so startled at death? Is it not the most inevitable thing to occur to every man?
I have absolutely no fear of death. I am so confident of eternal life. I do have a fear though of PAIN at death. I particularly don’t want to die a MESSY death. Fear of blood? No. I used to be an OB nurse. That’s bloody. It’s not scary. That blood is natural, but the blood of trauma is not.
I cringe and look away when there is a deer lying by the side of the road. I took a walk with my sister recently, and she had seen one that had been hit near the drive to my parents’ house. As we walked that direction, she made a point of going over to look at it. I made a point of staying away. When she came back to where I was standing, she said, "Broke its neck and shoulder really bad—must have been going pretty fast." I wished she hadn’t commented.
I’m happy for Bill, the 86-year old. He loved God, he loved people, he loved serving as an usher, even at his age and in his frail condition. When I heard about his death, on the 21 st of December, I thought to myself, "Bill went home for Christmas."
But I know his poor wife of 65 years will be devastated. She will be lost without him. I’m so very sorry for her.
I just lost a pair of friends, a beautiful young newlywed couple on Thanksgiving evening, killed instantly when he lost control coming home from dinner at her parents house. They were 26 and 28, and had been married in our church only six months earlier. I loved them both, I was close to them both, and there was no joy in their death. It wasn’t right. I was and still am very sad, even mad. Yes, they’re in heaven, but they weren’t supposed to be there yet. The funeral home told us there was hardly a scratch on either of their bodies. That wasn’t much consolation.
Jesus himself wept at a funeral once. Kind of funny when you think he must have known he was going to raise his friend Lazarus from the dead in just a few minutes. Why weep? I think he was weeping for the billions of people who are touched by death throughout the ages, for those who weep at gravesides, for lonely widows and fatherless children. He was weeping for all of us, because death relentlessly hunts us all down and we cannot escape the pain it brings. Jesus went to the cross and conquered death, a mystery I cannot fathom, but believe because He said it.
If it weren’t for what Jesus did, what would be the sense of going on living, when you know the inevitable end?
THERE IS ANOTHER WORLD!!! One where death no longer reigns. Not just heaven, but the KINGDOM. A Kingdom we can live in and be a part of, even while we live here on the earth. A Kingdom that continues when our bodies wear out and leave this earth, an existence that is forever. Eternal life doesn’t start when we die, it begins NOW.