07 May 2008

Makes You Think Of Your Own Mortality, Doesn't It?

These were the very words spoken by my doctor during a visit to his office following my having a stent placed in a main artery leading from my heart on Friday, May 4, 2001. My Cardiologist had been successful in the procedure to insert the stent. I know this personally because seven years later here I am writing this article. There was a ninety-five percent blockage in the artery but I had not suffered any pain which made me completely unaware of the impending danger. What I had was what doctors call ‘a widow maker.’ For extending my life to this moment of time I am very grateful to my Heavenly Father who has added seven years to my life (As in the case of Hezekiah, 15 years, Isaiah 38:4).

But this is not the only time that I have considered my own mortality. Just recently Virginia and I made new wills. Our older ones were out of date and needed revising. These were more complex since we have added ‘stuff’ to our possessions over the intervening years. Not only that, we made out ‘living wills’ which we had not previously done. When you make wills you realize more and more that you are going to leave all of your material blessings behind because you can’t take anything with you. It is important that you “lay up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19, 20). The apostle Paul said it in this manner: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1, 2). The older a person becomes the more he thinks of the hereafter.

In addition to the Word of God, I have read scores of articles and books on what awaits us after this earthly life has ended. Now the authors of the various articles and books have never experienced what it is like in the ‘great beyond’. They will either base their findings on the inspired scriptures and/or the various philosophies of mortal men. The fact is, the individuals raised from the dead as mentioned in the Old and New Testament (including Lazarus who was dead for four days) never mentioned anything about what lies beyond the grave. Even the one (I believe Paul) who was caught up to the third heaven and into Paradise was not permitted to write what he saw and heard (2 Corinthians 12:1-7). The unbeliever would desire that when a man dies he is like the ‘dog Rover and is dead all over’. Others might concede that the wicked will be punished but not for eternity. But what if these teachers are wrong? It will be too late to make changes in my belief and in my manner of life. I will not be able return to this life and prepare to meet my Lord in eternity. There is to be no second chance.

Another thought came to my mind and that is, am I to believe that when I die I cease to exist in both body and spirit. This might be better than being in torment for eternity but does it satisfy my longing to continue to be when this life is over. There is so much I don’t understand about afterlife but I do have an unwavering trust in my Lord Jesus Christ who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die, Do you believe this” (John 11:25, 26)? The apostle Paul wrote that “to die is Gain” “and to be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:21, 23). It was my Lord Jesus Christ who said, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and Death” (Revelation 1:18).

Because He LivesWords and music by William J. Gaither© 1971
God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

And then one day, I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict'ry,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

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