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12 Sep '12

What does it mean to be ready for death?

Posted by T.J. Addington in death, Intentional living
No this is not a macabre subject, at least for those who are Christ followers. Nor is this a blog for senior citizens. The truth is that our time on earth is but a speck of the time we will have in eternity. 

The other truth is that there is a paper thin line between life and eternity and although we all expect and hope to live to a ripe old age, we know that is not always reality either. I know this from experience having been on the precipice of death at ages 51 and 52. The line came so close for me on several occasions that the paddles were out, the crash cart there and I hung by a thread between time and eternity - for days.

I have two dear friends right now who will slip through the veil in the next days or weeks. And I have a list of people now at 56 with whom I will be reunited on that day when I too slip through the veil.

Which leads me to a question. What does it mean for us to be ready for death? It is, after all a part of life and it is the close of one chapter and the opening of another chapter so amazing that there are not adequate words in the New Testament to describe it - only glimpses. But if Jesus is everything and if we will spend eternity with He who is everything, I guess that sums up what we need to know. 

The problem is that we don't know the day or the hour when we will close this chapter and open the next so living in light of eternity means that we are ready for those two chapters to collide and for us to go from one to the other. 

So what does it mean for us to be ready for death, for eternity, for that moment when life and eternity intersect just long enough for us to move from one to the other?

Readiness means that we don't fear death. We may not like the process but for believers death holds a promise of something far greater than we have ever experienced or could ever imagine. Fear of death is really the result of an inadequate understanding of God and His Word. Those of us who fear death need to study the promises of God on death and eternal life. 

Readiness means that we don't leave unfinished business. I am not talking about the unfinished building project or things that can be picked up by others. I do mean relationships that we wished we had fixed, priorities we should have pursued, family we should have spent time with, obedience we should have paid better attention to. We don't want loose ends that we wish we had tied up when we are moments from eternity.

Readiness means that we don't so overvalue life and undervalue eternity that we and our family cannot make the adjustment to our going. Death is hard for those we leave behind, not for those who enter Christ's presence. But just as we must not fear death, so they must not fear it either and in their sorrow for loss, rejoice in the gain of those who are now in the presence of Jesus. I grieve for families that live in depression and diminished life for years after a loved one has died. If they only had a glimpse of the other side of the veil they would be rejoicing even in their loss.

Readiness means that I want to leave an example of a life well lived and a death well died that comes out of a deep followership of Christ and faith in all of His promises. Eternity is about legacy that we leave behind for our families, friends, and colleagues. It is about an example that we can follow. Every day I think of friends who have gone before me and the example they left in how they lived and how they died. Those examples are like channel markers for me to do the same. I want it to be said that I ran the race well and that in the end with eternity in front of me, I finished the race well.

Death comes to all of us. We all face that journey. How we face it makes a great difference to us and to others.