The sobering reality of death
“It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”.
Wow, the reality of this verse from the 9th chapter of Hebrews really hit me between the eyes this week! It was one of those weeks where you feel like you just got a major dose of reality. And even more than that maybe a better reminder and appreciation of the word “perspective”.
I was already in a very reflective mood as we approached the end of the year and with mixed emotions my thoughts were focused on my oldest daughter Kayla, who has now been in heaven with the Lord for 15 years. She left this life on December 11th. It is so hard to believe she would now be 25 years old. Wow, how the years have flown by. I cherish the many memories of one of the sweetest and most beautiful little girls I have ever known. I am also comforted by the reality of where she is and that I will see here again someday. There is something very special about the love a father has for his children.
I was also reminiscing of some of my extreme wealth, and I am not referring to my bank account. I have been blessed with the most amazing wife of 27 years who loves me, and 5 children that I still have the privilege of being responsible for on this side of heaven. I could not put a price tag on the relationship I have with them. There are too many other riches to even describe of which I am very grateful.
And then I got the phone call.
My father who would be 87 years old on December 17th unexpectantly also left this earth and his temporary “tabernacle” to be with his wife, my daughter, family, friends, and most importantly his Heavenly Father. Again, I am left with mixed emotions. Death has a sobering effect on those that are left behind. I am so grateful for the comfort of Scripture. Many verses flooded my mind. One of them was out of 1 Corinthians 15:54, 55,
“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, and then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written; ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’. Oh Death, where is your sting? Oh Hades, where is your victory?”
I can honesty attest to the truth that God has taken the “sting” out of death. I also love the passage out of 1Thessalonians 4:13,
“But I do not want you to be ignorant brethren concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.”
And then the Apostle Paul goes on to describe a Christian’s “Blessed Hope”! I have definitely done some sorrowing lately, but I can confidently tell you it has not been hopeless!
A few nights ago I stood in my dad’s room still trying to grasp the reality that he had died just a few hours before. As I closed the door and turned out the lights of his room it really struck me. That is how quick our life is. Before you know it, we are turning out the lights and closing the door! It doesn’t matter if you live 10 years like my oldest daughter or 87 years like my father. Compared to eternity it is just an incredibly short journey! What a sobering reality.
What am I doing with my life? Am I living the abundant life that Christ said was available in John the 10th chapter? Does my life have purpose and meaning? Have I lost my vision?
Again I am reminded of Scripture. Two passages really have been impressive on me lately. The first is James 4:14,
“Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
The second one is in Ephesians 5:15, 16,
“Be very careful then how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
So here is a man that served 2 terms in the United States Navy for his Country. He was married and raised a family. He had a career and was active in his church. He retired then old age soon came, and now he is gone! I reflect on my father with fond memories. He definitely had his faults but I will remember him as a Godly man that demonstrated stability to his family. His actions definitely spoke louder than his words. He made sure his children were exposed to the truth and I will be forever grateful for that. Yes he is gone, but he has gone somewhere! Death for a Christian is not an ending of life but a transfer of living! My dad is more alive today than he has ever been! He is in a place that God is preparing for all of us. This is a place with no more sadness, no pain, or tears, or heartache, or death. And so many of my loved ones are already there. What an amazing comfort!
So yes, death is a sobering reality. However it causes me to focus on heaven. It also motivates me to want to use the rest of my days to serve my Savior. How about you? So I will close with my favorite verses out of the Bible. It is 1 Corinthians 15: 57 & 58.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”