While writing A Ragamuffin In God’s Hall of Fame, overviewing the life of Rich Mullins, I often came across “his untimely death”. Yes, he died at the young age of 41. Even younger at death was Keith Green, 28, whose godly music and message continue to glorify God.
Almost everyone in this fallen world can testify of an “untimely death”, as do I, recalling my brother’s death at age 38. (Noted in this post)
But ultimately for the believer, however, there is no “untimely death”, it is an “appointed death” (Hebrews 9:12). The last steps of our life are, as all other steps, are “ordered by God”.
Why is this so important?
- As followers of the Lord, we must wrap ourselves with the truths of His word before the battle begins. A perpetual focus of life in this world robs us of the spiritual truths and fortitude we will need when death comes upon us or our loved ones.
- Jesus said, “You are the light of the world” and as such, we must have a living word in our hearts ready to shine into the grief and confusion of those who face death.
There is no hint whatsoever that God “allows” one of His followers to die, as though He were a mere witness to death; “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.” God is sovereign, not a bystander in our lives. One can meditate upon the lives of godly servants in Scripture and find that, in spite of very real and ongoing death threats and attempts, they ‘were immortal until God’s work through them was complete’. King David, the Apostle Paul and our Savior Jesus Himself are striking examples of men whose lives were sought by powerful foes yet they remained alive and victorious under God’s protection.
After coming to saving faith in Christ, God’s purposes that we increasingly “conform to the image of God’s Son”.
“The believer’s life on earth is his only arena for change and fruitfulness…the nature of eternity is changeless. Therefore, the time to become like Jesus, being conformed to His likeness, is during this earthly Christian experience of trial and faith.”
“You and I will never be any closer to Christ, throughout eternity, than we are when He comes. That’s the point of judgement.” (Dr. Lovett)
Often the life of a fruitful and godly believer is so needed and cherished here and now that his death seems only senseless and tragic. But the Alpha and Omega may see that believer at the pinnacle of his faith and walk with God. The Lord alone can see the future backsliding, pitfalls and snares…His view of us is always eternal.
Only a Biblical view of death and heaven can prepare us for grief and heartbreak. And only detaching ourselves from this world can release the truths of death and eternity into our hearts. Can we affirm with Paul, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” ? Can we trust God that His timing and view of our eternity is always accurate, even perfect?
In II Kings 20, God directed an ailing King Hezekiah, “Get your house in order, you’re going to die…” Yet, while claiming great faithfulness and devotion, Hezekiah actually revealed his attachment to his kingdom here, pleading with God for more time. The additional 15 years that God granted brought forth the fruits of a spiritual downfall. His pride burst forth, he lost his discernment, and during this time sired the most wicked heir, King Manasseh.
“When God tells us that it’s time for us to die, we must be willing to leave the earth immediately. For God alone knows what is best for us. So, when God tells us it is time to go, we should not want to stay on in this rotten world any longer.” Zac Poonen
And yet, what of the deaths of unsaved loved ones? Contemplating their end must serve to embolden us to proclaim the Gospel as though they stand on the precipice of eternity because that is where they are. Like the thief on the cross alongside Jesus, their last steps may land upon that ‘narrow road’ of salvation. But as representatives of God in heaven, we must pray for boldness to speak the truth.
Like water through a funnel, we are swirling faster into the end days. Many believers however, are lulled into complacency and comfort, having sought and gained satisfaction in this world. I pray that we, together, will seek the full counsel of God on matters of life and matters of death and eternity. Whether our last steps are ordered days or years from now, let us fill ourselves with enough truth to pour out to those who are dying without it.
“At every turn in your life, keep the end in view” Thomas À Kempis