“We rarely go gently into that good night” wrote Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland in his book How We Die. We were born to die and so we shall.
The death process, and why suffering is often present at the end, is a mystery to me. If I had a choice, I would emulate a friend’s father. He went for a two mile walk through the woods of his beloved farm, returned home, kicked back in his recliner, and took a nap – permanently.
My mother died of cancer, and though she pleaded with God to take her home he did not do so immediately. She suffered. But, if she had gone sooner I would have missed one of the best weeks of my life. I took time off and went home for a goodbye visit, stenography pad in hand. Knowing the end was near; she shared things she wanted her children to know, last words of importance to her. And, even unexpected pearls.
“You know” she said shyly, a twinkle sparkling briefly in her pain washed eyes. “Your father wasn’t the first one to ask me to marry.”
What! I wondered if Dad knew. I treasure those days and the pages of notes I recorded so that I would not forget the essence of my mother.
Unfortunately, I waited too long to ask my father about his early life. Alzheimer’s robbed him of the ability to share his life story.
As we transition (the current euphemism) toward eternity, many increasingly ask, “Is my life counting for anything? Does it have purpose?” Our great desire when we stand before God is to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
The scriptures are replete with fascinating stories of the life and death of saints and sinners. Moses died at Pisgah on Mount Nebo, seeing the Promised Land afar, his sin prohibiting him from crossing the Jordan. But later, there he is standing on the Mount of Transfiguration with Elijah, who departed this life in a whirlwind. For a brief moment, they were back, visiting with our Savior.
Samuel served God all his life, and beyond. In one of the strangest scenes in the Bible, a medium calls Samuel forth from the grave. Samuel chastises Saul for disturbing him and declares Saul and his sons would be joining him tomorrow. 1 Samuel 28:19.
Jacob, after calling his family together and passing on his blessings, died peacefully on his bed. Genesis 49:33.
The fates of the rich man and Lazarus are depicted in Luke 16:19-31. There is much to ponder about the hereafter in these verses.
The death of young Stephen had great influence on Paul. (Acts 22:20) His life counted.
My audiologist was testing my hearing when he said, “Five years ago you told me something that has stayed with me. I’ve thought about it often, and you are right.”
Puzzled, I asked, “What did I say?”
You said, “You are not ready to live until you are ready to die.”
The best combat soldiers overcome fear, accepting death as an occupational hazard. As soldiers of the cross, we too, must be good warriors. And why shouldn’t we? The battle has already been won. We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.
Knowing we are just passing through, how should we live our life? Cristy Lane’s One Day at a Time is a song to keep in your heart and on your lips. Ecclesiastes 9:10 gives robust advice.
“Yard by yard is hard” my pastor said. “Inch by inch is a cinch.”
Yielding our lives to Christ, trusting Him daily to guide our steps, we will leave a legacy of faith for family and friends. However we eventually cross the bar, on a gentle tide or turbulent sea, our life will count.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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