Unfortunately, that dear member of the Lord's body is dying.
Or is it unfortunate?
There is an amazing variety of ways people feel about death, particularly when they themselves are facing it. Many of us quote the apostle Paul who once famously said, "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Phi 1:21. As Christians, we put a brave and confident face on the prospect and speak in spiritually if not politically correct terms about it. However, how would any of us really feel when we receive the somberly delivered terminal diagnosis from our physician? What thoughts would race through our minds? What concerns would be primary in our consideration? What fears would we face?
Surely these are questions that can only be answered by the individual. Even then, the realities cannot be fully known until one finds themselves in that situation. I'm reminded of Hezekiah's response to Isaiah's news that he had come to the end of his life in Isa 38:1-5. From his response, it does not seem that he experienced joy at the prospect of living in eternal heavenly bliss with God. Interestingly enough, isn't that at least ONE of the reasons we became Christians?
Perhaps we fear death because it is the ultimate unknown. Despite everything we think we know, none of us have ever spoken with anyone who has ultimately died and was able to send back a report from the "other side." Even then, the report would be controversial at best and difficult to believe at least, Luke 16:24-31. We know this because the bible contains a number of examples of what we can expect as we transition from one form of life to the other, yet still, many of us who call upon the name of Christ are filled with trepidation at even the thought of loosing this mortal coil.
Perhaps we can discuss in a later post why we feel this way. One way to relieve ourselves of this anxiety however, despite our reasons for having such misgivings, is to take Peter's advice: "...give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall" 2 Peter 1:10.
In speaking with our dear member, I was filled with the mixed emotions of both joy and sadness when he uttered words that still resonate with me and inspired this writing. He simply said, "I'm ready." What a powerful statement of faith! We talked about many things that day, his past mistakes, his repentance, the history of his faith and the history of his health. These and many more things discussed caused me to really feel the depth of his peace and assurance in the Lord. It is something to which I aspire.
The time has not yet come to say farewell to my dear brother. I will endeavor to spend more time with him while there is still time to learn more about that peace that passes all understanding and his preparation to see Jesus. For surely, we will all pass that way sooner or later. When that day comes, I want to be able to say with wide eyed enthusiasm and anticipation as Paul said and our dear member exemplified,
- "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." 2 Tim 4:6-8
Strengthening Our Faith