I suspect that the question of how long our life will be is far from our normal conscious thought, until something happens to jar us out of our lethargy and into the reality that none of us is as big, as strong, as indestructible, or as far from leaving this life as we believe ourselves to be.
These thoughts are on my mind today because we just came back from the memorial service for a dear lady in our church who died this week after an extended illness. While it was difficult to learn of her passing, we were relieved that she was no longer in pain, that her husband was no longer watching her suffer, and that he and the rest of her family could rest in the knowledge that she was with her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Unlike our friend who suffered the ravages of disease for many years, the picture above is of the family after my grandfather suffered a premature, and unexpected death in 1956. As I recall, his death was sudden, without an extended illness. There was no way for the family to prepare themselves, one day he was with us, the next he was gone.
I know this is true of my own mother. She died when I was 21. I was living several states away so we communicated by phone. I spoke with her on Sunday and we expressed concern about my father’s cancer. He was in the hospital preparing for surgery, but we were not sure what the outcome would be. (Back then, you did not prepare for cancer surgery by sitting at home, you waited in the hospital bed for multiple procedures in preparation for surgery.) She was comforting me about my father, telling me that the Lord was with her and with Daddy and that He would take care of both of them. I was not to worry.
That was the last time I heard my mother’s voice. Two days later, on Tuesday, I received a phone call that she had suffered a massive stroke. She never came out of the coma and on Thursday she went to meet her Lord and Savior. She was only 54 years old when she was called home.
Hard to concentrate on trivial things when your life is turned upside down by a sudden death of a loved one.
No one has an answer to the multitude of questions that are raised when death comes like a thief in the night nor are there answers when we watch a loved one die a slow, excruciating death. That simply is not within our sphere of knowledge.
Like it or not, we are the creation, not the Creator.
God is sovereign in all things, even in the length of time his creation exists. Even before we are born, God knows when we will arrive as that bundle of joy and when we will leave this earthly existence.
Proverbs 90:12 says –OOPS — CORRECTION: Proverbs only has 31 chapters so clearly this is an incorrect reference. Thanks to my dear friend Claudette Starr who noticed this mistake. I do apologize for this error; my proofreading will have to improve in the future! Now, back to the thought. If you look at PSALMS 90:12 you will find the following text:
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
There are numerous lessons that can be learned when we attend a funeral, or when we learn that a loved one has died suddenly, not the least of which is that we are reminded that we need to be ready for “our own personal end of days” as well as “the end of days,” when Christ returns.
He sent His Son to be our Savior. His Son, Jesus, died as an atonement for our sin, all of it. Because he died for us, we no longer have to suffer the punishment that our sin places on us. He rose from the dead and, because He lives and is interceding on our behalf, those who believe in Jesus’ Name will live eternally.
In 2 Corinthians 6:2, the Apostle Paul says it as clearly as possible:
“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
That Tuesday, my mother had no idea that such day would be the irreversible beginning of her “last days”.
As Reformed Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ will bodily return one day. Indeed, Paul affirms this in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17:
For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
Then, there will not be any more time to repent. The die, as we say, will have been cast and the game of this world will be abruptly ended. There will be no more time. Even if Jesus does not return during our lifetime, we know that we will all have to face death, some sooner and some later; but it is inevitable.
It is a certainty that time will run out – whether it is when Jesus returns or at our own personal “end of days” — and there is absolutely no way that you or I know when that day will come.
The Apostle Paul was right – Repent, for today is the day of salvation!
Father, often we live our lives as if we will continue on for decades before anything major will happen, certainly before death knocks at our heart’s door; forgive us for being so callous and foolish. Forgive us, Father, for thinking of salvation as a type of fire insurance. Forgive us when we have marginalized Jesus’ work on the cross rather than bowing in humble obedience to Him. Forgive us when we have ignored the Holy Spirit’s prompting for a living, dynamic relationship with the Almighty Sovereign Creator God. Father, forgive us!