It has been several years since I got a phone call informing me that my father was in the hospital with internal bleeding. He likely was not going to survive. After the 5 hour road trip I was met at hospital by my brother-in-law who said,
“He's gone. I am sorry.”
“He's gone. I am sorry.”
My mother later related a conversation she had with my father in the last moments of his life. She had asked him if he knew what was happening.
He said, “I am dying. It eventually happens to everyone."
For my father death was obviously imminent. For many, if not most, we live as if death is lingering out there in the distant misty future without accepting it as inescapable.
As followers of Jesus we know that death is universally present in the world because of sin.
The wages (payment) for sin is death (Romans 6:23) Before salvation each person is “. . .dead in your trespasses and sins . . .” (Ephesians 2:1). This speaks of spiritual death which we understand to be separation from God. Part of this separation from God is our efforts to ignore and escape the thought and reality that our physical death is only a matter of time. Maybe a short time, today. Maybe a relatively long time, decades. But, as I sometimes say, “You are not getting out of this world alive.” that is of course unless the Lord Jesus returns to take us. Because physical death is imminent, yet the time is uncertain, we urge people to turn from their sin to trust in Jesus with an urgency.
You are going to die.
Are you ready to meet the Lord?
If not, then today is the day to get ready.
Locally, and globally, the prospect of death from COVID – 19 has become a major focus. “Stay Home and Save Lives.” What is the opposite? Leave home and kill people? Leave home and die? Leave home and cause someone else to die? Regardless of how we may view responses to COVID-19, the underlying issue is death, avoiding death, saving people from physical death.
In our present circumstances we have an opportunity to personally draw closer to God and to touch people's lives for eternity.
The Christian's perspective on physical death is calibrated by eternity. We have forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and the certainty of the resurrection from the dead by God's grace. For us death is a transition (albeit difficult) from the physical and sinful to the spiritual and sinless new body. We know the things of this world have no eternal value and therefore we store up treasure in heaven. For this reason we find these instructive statements made by those who knew God and faced the prospect of imminent death.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. (Philippians 1:21-24)
Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind. (2 Peter 1:12-15)
My prayer is that as we have this time apart that each one of us will become more devoted to walking with the Lord as we have become more aware of our own mortality.
Also, as the people around us have a heightened awareness of death, we have an opportunity to talk more freely about death and can inquire if they personally are ready to meet the Lord. COVID-19 is a bridge to turn conversations to spiritual things. In these days we can comfortably ask people if they were to catch the virus and die, then what? From there we can talk about Jesus, God's love, forgiveness, grace, eternal life, heaven, hell, judgment etc.
"I am dying. It eventually happens to everyone."
Let us embrace the truth of God that this life is short. Let us live in light of this truth. Let us also share the love of God with the people in our lives as God has given an opening to talk about spiritual things. May we have the blessing of being able to say that because of COVID-19 someone heard about Jesus and now their sins are forgiven and they have eternal life.
To God be the glory.
Serving with joy,