Last friday we looked at the realities of eternity and how we should be preparing to meet our God. Today we continue this theme buy looking at issues which should concern us, given the inevitably of our departure from this world.
We have to confess that death is an enemy. In fact the enemy of our souls, Satan, has death in his power (see Heb. 2:14). Consequently upon this is the thought that death casts a shadow over our lives. This is particularly true when we draw near to this enemy. Psalm 23:4a refers to the “walk through the darkest valley”. However, David goes on to say that he will “fear no evil: for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4b).
These comments by David are very important for us in getting a handle on how the Christian should prepare for death. David knows that the God of all comfort (2 Cor.1:3a) is being so really good to him now. And with this knowledge he has confidence to fear no evil in the future day when he walks into the valley of the shadow of death.
It is further very interesting to note that David draws his comfort from both the rod and the staff. The rod corrects us and the staff upholds us. We can easily see how God’s upholding hand is a comfort to us. However, it is less easy for us to see that the rod is a comfort. We start to get an insight into this though, when we look at Heb. 12:9-10 where the writer says “we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.” The clear implication here is that the LORD’S correction, symbolised by the rod in Psalm 23:4b, means that He has a fatherly care for us. And an awareness of His fatherly care, at the present time, encourages us not to fear the day of death ahead because, in that day we know He will be with us taking care of us.
So what does this mean to us? It means that we should be continually learning more of our God’s comforting hand upon us as we pass through the twists and turns of life. And the knowledge of this will mean that we need not have any fear in that day because we know he will be there to comfort us.
What about the things we leave behind?
As Christians we are called to be good stewards of that which God has committed to our care. This applies very much to the making of arrangements concerning our affairs after we depart to be with the LORD. This implicitly challenges our lifestyle at the present time. If we hoard and/or live in chaos then someone after us will have to clear up the mess and what testimony will that bear to the LORD’S Name? In fact in all our ways we should live so that we are unashamed before him at his coming (1 John 2:28b).
One crucial aspect of the ordering of our affairs is that we should have a will. This means that our relatives/friends know what to do when we die. It hopefully will prevent any unnecessary disputes arising. Very regrettably disputes often abound concerning issues of inheritance (the LORD Himself faced this in Luke 12:13) and we should be wise to seek to prevent this. Furthermore, leaving a will can mean that the work of the LORD is benefited by all or a portion of your estate being left to an appropriate designated organisation.
One further specific area to consider is that of the funeral. Relatives are often in disarray after a loved one has passed on and funeral arrangements can become a very toilsome issue. Accordingly making clear your desires; even choosing hymns and Bible readings is very wise. It is best to speak to relatives and the elders of the church about this so that everything is clear to the relevant parties. How sad it is when a believer leaves no clear requests then, after death, the unbelieving relatives take over leading to the funeral being undertaken with neither any testimony to the LORD nor to His resurrection power.
Let us then be careful to prepare for the day of our departure. And in all things remember that as believers when we part from this scene we have a home in heaven awaiting us: Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14: 1-3). HALLELUJAH; PRAISE THE LORD.
(Taken and adapted from Feltham Evangelical Newsletter March 2004)