If you want to stifle conversation at a lively party, bring up the subject of death. Few people like to talk about it even though it is a daily part of life. People die every day, people in our world, people in our state, people in our community, people in our family.
Each day I check the online obituaries of a couple of funeral homes in my home town of Hinton, West Virginia, and I also look over the online version of the Register Herald newspaper from Beckley, West Virginia. I’m not often surprised to read about the passing of older people, but this week I read the death notice of a young man I taught in sixth grade years ago; those and others of people my age and younger often make me stop and review my own mortality.
I remember reading the notice of a woman who died at age 104. It stated that she “died unexpectedly.” I said to myself, “No she didn’t. Maybe that particular day wasn’t expected but at that age, any day of passing should be expected.” That’s how prevalent death is in our society.
As a very young boy, I remember the passing of one of my grandmothers and can still see her in the open coffin in my grandfather’s living room, a room that was then closed off and unused. As a young and inexperienced Christian, I was called on to conduct my first funeral, for a two-year old girl who died of a dreaded disease.
Since that time I’ve buried most of my family, many of my friends and acquaintances. I’m conducted funerals for those who were very old to those who died at birth. And each time I remember that the Scriptures tell us that “it is appointed unto men once to die…” (Hebrews 9:27) and “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). Every one of us know that the last item on our bucket list is to kick it.
But there are two faces of death. For the child of God, those who know Christ, death is a promotion to a better place.
We are absent from this body and this world of evil and trials and present with the Savior, forever free from pain, disease and death. For the Christian, death isn’t even a good word for that experience and while we mourn the breaking of earthly bonds, we would never want to bring our saved family and friends back from glory to this earth.
But for the unsaved person, death is a horrible end. That person’s eternal being has only judgment and hell to look forward too. And at death, the eternal destination is sealed; there is no second chance after death.
And none of us is guaranteed tomorrow, or even the next moment.
An employer in Horry County had a faithful employee and they had a good relationship. One day the employer asked the employee to run to the store to purchase some things the business needed. Off he went.
A short time later the employee rushed in, empty handed, breathless and pale. When the boss asked what happened the man told him that while shopping at the store, he ran into Death in the aisle. Death looked at him for a long time and seemed surprised. It scared the man and he took off.
He feared Death was after him so he asked the boss to let him leave town. The boss agreed and the man got in his car and headed down to Charleston. The boss then went to the store to get the needed items and there he too saw Death. Bravely he asked Death, “Why were you looking at my employee so strangely today?”
Death replied, “I was surprised to see him here. You see, I have an appointment with him in Charleston just this afternoon.”
We will all die; we don’t know when; we must be prepared today.
“The Savior is waiting to enter your heart; why don’t you let Him come in? There’s nothing in this world to keep you apart; what is your answer to Him? Time after time He has waited before, and now He is waiting again to see if you’re willing to open the door, O how He wants to come in.”