Preparing to go home – Still time?

What if today was the day?  What if today is the day you finally get to see what happens after your last day on Earth?

There’s way more to life than any of us can understand or even imagine.  We all know that we live for a time, then die.  Some of us believe that’s the end of it all.  But some of us believe that life does not even really begin until that happens.  And some of us say we believe in the latter, but live our lives as if the former is true.

There might not be life after death, but why live as if there isn’t?  It is the absolute height of folly to never get around to making plans, don’t you think?  What if you spend some time getting ready, then you just die and that turns out to be it?  Who would care that you ‘wasted’ that time?  Nobody.  You certainly wouldn’t care.  You would just not be at all any more.  On the other hand, what if you die, then discover that there is more?  What if you discover that what you thought was life was really just sort of a gestation period, where you were being formed in the world God created to prepare us for our real home?  What if you found out that who we become during this life matters completely when we get to the next one?

Take a close look the next time a line of cars following a hearse passes by.  The body in the hearse is done.  The guy who occupied that body just a few days ago did not plan for that day to be HIS day.  It just turned out that way.

My friend Dave lost his brother Craig recently.  He had been battling cancer, so they knew his day was near.  It was so poignant for him, because his wife had also been operated on for cancer, but had come through surgery fine, and seemed to be O.K.  But he was only able to celebrate her victory  for a few days,  because it was becoming clear that Craig’s outcome would not be so good.  He wrote me this note:

I wanted to send you a note yesterday but just did not get the chance.  As you know from Carrie’s email, my brother Craig died yesterday early in the morning at home with his wife at his side.  He went peacefully, and I believe he went with a renewed commitment to Christ, and I want to share with you why.

After I left our last  meeting, I called Craig while driving home.  I felt an urgent need to go see him at the time.  Earlier in the week I had taken some time to consider what I wanted to say to Craig, and wrote down some thoughts.  Before I got home I also called and talked to my wife about changing my plans to attend to some chores around the house.  I said I really felt I needed to go see Craig.  When I got to Craig’s house, he was a little sleepy but he was awake.  He knew I was there, and God presented me with about one hour alone with Craig.  I talked to him about my faith in God and about Christ and His role in our lives.  I told Craig that God loves him and that He was not punishing him, and that I was not giving up on praying for his healing – and I prayed with him for healing in every aspect – the healing of his relationship to God and Christ, the healing of his heart, mind, body and soul; for comfort and peace.  While Craig did not talk much he thanked me several times before and after my prayers and he squeezed my hand to let me know he was listening.  I believe too that he was affirming what I was saying.  I said to him that I was not telling him anything that he had not already heard when we were kids going through our confirmation class in church, but that I wanted to remind him of that commitment to Christ he made as a child and tell him that it was okay to reaffirm that now, regardless of what has or has not happened in his life up to that moment – that Christ died to forgive all of us of our mistakes and sins and that forgiveness through Christ is still there for him to accept.  I expressed my sorrow for not having talked with him sooner.  As you read this now it may seem like I was being a good brother and doing all the right things.  But, most of the time I was a mess.  I broke down several times, and really struggled to get through what I wanted to say.  At the time I was not really sure if I had said anything in a coherent manner or if Craig had really heard everything I said or if he had made a new commitment to Christ.  I felt that he had, but was not completely sure.

The day before my brother died, a friend and client of mine called me.  I have been helping her from time to time with some trademark and copyright issues over the last year or so.  And she has been suffering with some medical issues for a number of years.  At times during our business calls we discussed God and Christ but her view was that Jesus was a good person but not really essential to talk to God.  As best I could, and trying to be non-judgmental in my attitude and tone, I tried to explain Christ’s role and how He really is essential.  I could tell she was exploring and searching for answers from God and I encouraged her to read the Bible and find a church.  I had also mentioned to her months ago that my wife and brother were battling cancer and she said she would be praying for both of them.  Well, when she called me Tuesday, I thought she was going to ask me about her trademark application and other work issues but she really wanted to tell me that she had accepted Christ as her savior and asked me to pray with her over the phone!  She was in tears most of the time and still had many questions about Jews and children who have never heard about Christ, and what happens to them, etc.  I encouraged her to find a church and to get into a small group Bible study, because that is where she needed to be to learn more about her relationship with God through Christ.  But, here’s the other thing that brought me comfort.  During our talk I told her that accepting Christ was my big concern for Craig and before I could say anything more she immediately stopped me and said I don’t need to worry – she said she had a dream the night before (Monday night/Tuesday morning) and that God told her that Craig had accepted Christ – and she specifically said Craig made this decision for himself and not just to appease me because I came to ask him to do so.  She said Craig heard what I was telling him and that he came to his own decision to accept Christ.

And another thing, I learned yesterday from my mom that the pastor of my parent’s church visited Craig a few days after I had.  She (the pastor) also prayed with Craig and my parents.  My mom told me that Craig repeatedly said thanks during the prayer and clearly said “amen” at the end of her prayer.  I don’t know anything about what the pastor said during her prayer, but I believe that God wanted to assure me through my mother’s words that Craig had in fact accepted Christ and that he was with God and that I will see my brother again in God’s Kingdom.  I am grateful to God and thank Him and praise Him for His grace and mercy and comfort in all things!

Thanks to you and all the guys in our group for all your prayers and support.  They have been more meaningful than I realized.

The Bible says that our lives are like a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes, and that we are like the grass, that will soon wither and die away.  One day someone will be watching your funeral precession drive by.  Are you ready?

Watch and listen as Tamara Lowe gets real.

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4 thoughts on “Preparing to go home – Still time?

  1. mgarelick

    You said:
    “There might not be life after death, but why live as if there isn’t? It is the absolute height of folly to never get around to making plans, don’t you think? What if you spend some time getting ready, then you just die and that turns out to be it? Who would care that you ‘wasted’ that time? Nobody. You certainly wouldn’t care. You would just not be at all any more. On the other hand, what if you die, then discover that there is more? What if you discover that what you thought was life was really just sort of a gestation period, where you were being formed in the world God created to prepare us for our real home? What if you found out that who we become during this life matters completely when we get to the next one?”

    Who would care? You would, while you’re doing it, if you were not reasonably convinced that you were working on something real. The people around you, if you are taking away from time you could spend with them. Anyone who might benefit from your time and thoughts, now or in the future.

    What if you die and discover that the next life depends entirely on how you lived this life? What if you will be punished for every permissible pleasure you denied yourself? What if you will be rewarded only for good deeds you did in this life with no thought of reward or punishment in the next life?

    More generally, when you set up these “what if” scenarios, you seem to be assuming that they are both equally likely. Would you agree that it is reasonable to ignore horrible consequences if their probability is sufficiently low? (If not, you should never get into a car, with or without seat belts.) Would it not be “folly,” if not the “height” of it, to devote any significant energy to protecting yourself from something that you really don’t believe will happen? I consider it vanishingly improbable that I will have a “next life” that will depend on my personal relationship with Jesus. How is it irrational for me to concentrate my energy on what I’m doing in this life?

    1. Have you ever actually studied any scripture? I’m not talking about random bits and parts pulled out of context to argue against, but genuine searching. The scriptures have stood up to tests and arguments against them for thousands of years, and even with all of our brilliance, and discernment, and highly evolved intellect, we can’t really figure out how to discredit them. No other ancient writings since the dawn of man have been subjected to such scrutiny, analysis, criticism and attack. Yet they remain as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago.

      But God will never force himself on you. Free will was His idea, and He will never violate it. So you must choose. You must come with an open mind and a humble spirit. Only then will God reveal Himself to you.

      The thing about your arguments that is so sad, though, is your assumption that by opening your heart, and really listening to Jesus’ teachings, that you would somehow be wasting time, or losing something far more valuable. But one of the most poignant paradoxes in life is that whoever wants to gain his life will most assuredly lose it.

      Keep on being the god in charge of your own life. Serve no one but yourself. That’s the best, the very best way to make your life in the here and now small, lonely, and insignificant. And that’s all before you find out whether today is your day.

      Or, you could “waste” a few hours of precious time, and listen – really listen – to the Prince of Peace. He is the one who made you, He is the one who has great plans for you, and He will welcome you back just as you are.

      1. mgarelick

        You don’t know thing one about my life. Nothing in your penultimate paragraph bears any resemblance to it whatsoever.

        From the little I know about the subject, I suspect that your claims about the resistance of the Bible to discredit are demonstrably false.

        The gist of your second and last paragraphs is “if you believe in Jesus, you will believe in Jesus.”

        “one of the most poignant paradoxes in life is that whoever wants to gain his life will most assuredly lose it.”

        Poignant? I don’t even know what “gain his life” could possibly mean.

        Every now and then you say something that resembles a logical argument that might be interesting to explore. But you didn’t really answer any of my questions.

      2. You don’t know thing one about my life. Nothing in your penultimate paragraph bears any resemblance to it whatsoever. I don’t know much, but I do know a little.

        From the little I know about the subject, I suspect that your claims about the resistance of the Bible to discredit are demonstrably false. Well, go ahead, demonstrate.

        The gist of your second and last paragraphs is “if you believe in Jesus, you will believe in Jesus.” Actually, I agree. There are arguments without number for both the atheists and the believers position. Neither position can be disproved. And both can be defended by the most highly regarded intellectuals. Consider C.S. Lewis, for example.

        “one of the most poignant paradoxes in life is that whoever wants to gain his life will most assuredly lose it.”

        Poignant? I don’t even know what “gain his life” could possibly mean. Jesus explains it all in the Gospels.

        Every now and then you say something that resembles a logical argument that might be interesting to explore. But you didn’t really answer any of my questions. Perhaps I was wrong. I assumed that you really didn’t want answers – that you really just wanted to argue. If I was right, then none of the answers would matter to you. But if I was wrong, then we might actually be able to have a productive dialogue. I’m willing to give it a try. Which of my possibly logical arguments would you like to explore?

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