Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
What did Kerry Packer say after one of his heart attacks? “I’m not ready to go yet”. What a brave statement. As though Kerry Packer was larger than death. No-one however famous or wealthy can escape death.
For most people death comes as an intruder—uninvited and unwelcome. No matter the brave face, inwardly most people feel a sense of isolation, panic and despair. I think many people, if they were truly honest, are unable to cope with the reality of death.
All ages and cultures find the thought of death traumatic: it shocks, upsets, unnerves and shakes people to the core. Nineteen times the Bible calls the prospect of death its ‘shadow’ for it looms ahead of us as a dark threat. Death casts a shadow—humans have a 100% mortality rate.
Death is no laughing matter—I’ve conducted many funerals over my working life, and have seen first-hand how people handle this. Some are absolutely devastated as they are standing beside a coffin of their deceased loved one—not knowing what to say, confused and upset. Others are too distressed to feel anything except numbness. The world sees physical death as final closure, a meaningless end to a person’s life. At funerals I usually say something like this:
Death is not like a railway line—you come to the end of line and there’s nowhere to go. Death is better pictured as a valley—a valley that people cross to go from one place to another. Jesus was the first one to successfully cross the valley of death and rise again to new life.
Death Is a Beginning
And so death is a beginning—the opening of a door where one reaps what one has sown. And that thought frightens some. How wonderful if you believe the words of Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”.
Corrie Ten Boom wrote the well known book called The Hiding Place. When she was a little girl in Holland her first realisation of death came after a visit to the home of a neighbour who had died. It impressed her that some day her parents would also die. Corrie’s father comforted her with words of wisdom:
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- “Corrie, when you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?”
- “Why, just before we get on the train,” she replied.
- “Exactly,” her father said, “and our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need—just in time”.
Hudson Taylor who found the China Inland Mission, in the closing months of his life said to a friend, “I am so weak. I can’t read my Bible. I can’t even pray. I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child and trust”.
Death Is Not the End of the Story
I think I am trying to say that death is not the end of the story. Of course we want to live to an old age and enjoy everything that life has to offer. But we cannot find a cure for death—it will come. But there is some good news: death is not the end of the story for those who know the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us what lies ahead for those who know Jesus. In the New Testament, in 2 Corinthians, we discover wonderful truths that give us hope as we face death with all its dark fears: “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
And that is a beautiful verse of hope. No matter how well you look after your body, one day it will stop. But God has prepared a home for you in Heaven where you will live on in eternity. Read the Bible, especially the New Testament to find out more. The Christian perspective on death and dying is the answer to give you peace of mind now—no more guessing.
I heard about somebody talking to his church minister. He said, “I don’t know what will happen to me in death. But I know that God is good, and I’ll just trust that what happens happens. I don’t know that I need to repent and have faith. I’ll just trust God.” That’s like pulling into a four-way intersection in your car, lifting your hand off the wheel, flooring the pedal, thinking nothing at all of the stop lights, and just saying, I’m going to trust God on whether I get through. On my way to work today, at every four-way intersection, I’m just going to go through and trust God. If I’m supposed to get through it, I’ll get through it.
That’s not trusting in God. God has provided answers to this serious matter—listen to what Jesus said and turn to him now before it is too late