How To Die

February 25, 2021
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Let Us With A Gladsome Mind"1 (Lyrics)

Philippians 1:21,23-24 – For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (KJV)

With my wife going to heaven in 2016, following our younger son going in 2005, I am more than eager to join them. However, I must confess that frequently, I wonder how I am going to die. You may wonder that also, since it is something that we all will do.

When he was a teenager, my younger son was privileged to play his cornet one Sunday afternoon in the home of a faithful Christian who died the following Wednesday. We knew that she was close to death, but somehow God gave her the strength to rise from her bed and sing. John was thrilled when he saw her descending the gracious stairway singing, accompanied by the small band, the words of the song by Herbert Booth (1862-1926):

    I bring to Thee my heart to fill;
    I feel how weak I am, but still
    To Thee for help I call.
    In joy or grief, to live or die,
    For earth or heaven, this is my cry:
    Be Thou my all in all.

    Christ is all, yes, all in all;
    My Christ is all in all.

On the anniversary of her death, her husband sat beside me in church. We recalled that Sunday afternoon. We both said, "That is how to die."

More than two decades later, in 2005, John died from pancreatic cancer.

On a September Saturday, just one week before he died, the palliative doctor told him that he would probably live until Tuesday. When John asked how he would die, the doctor replied, "Just close your eyes and go to sleep."

Awakening Wednesday morning, he sat up and questioned what he was doing wrong, since he was still alive. Even experienced palliative doctors aren't always correct.

Speaking at John's funeral, his brother said, "I was alone with John for a period during the darkest hours of the night a few days ago. He was sleeping, so I had turned off the CDs. All of a sudden, I felt him grip my hand tightly and through his oxygen mask, he sang the lines of "I'm in His hands". For me, this in so many ways brought together his faith, his service, and his witness through music."

    I shall not fear though darkened clouds may gather round me;
    The God I serve is one who cares and understands.
    Although the storms I face would threaten to confound me,
    Of this I am assured: I'm in His hands.

    I'm in His hands, I'm in His hands;
    Whate'er the future holds, I'm in His hands;
    The days I cannot see have all been planned for me;
    His way is best, you see; I'm in His hands.
           – Stanley Ditmer (1924-2003)

That is how to die.

A plaque hanging on our wall shows the words from Isaiah 26:3 – "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed in thee." (KJV)

Suffering from frequent pain, my wife often read that verse. I still read it daily, and recently, I shared it with a sick friend where I live.

Now, that is how to die.

Prayer: Dear God, thank You for giving us Your peace and teaching us how to die. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Vincent Walter <vwalter@bell.net>
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Meaningful for me.


    How lovely to have the hymn.


    Good words, Vince. God bless.


    This was a great read, thanks for sharing.


    Thank you. It is wonderful to hear the hymn music as well.


    Simply beautiful Vincent. Thanks for sharing with blessings.


    Oh, my friend in Christ, what a beautiful devotion!!! God bless!!


    Thank you for the inspiring and touching message: it brought tears to my eyes.


    Thanks for the lesson. You are so blessed. I will be using the hymns while I read from here on.


    Vincent, I always enjoy your devotionals. Keep them coming.
    (ON)


    Your post was so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes, indeed that is the way. Thanks for sharing and God bless, Vincent!


    Dear Mr. Walter
    Thank you for the wonderful testimony and blessing of your devotional today.


    Hello Vincent,
    Thanks for his devotional.
    Blessings.


    Lovely stuff, Vincent, from your own personal experience! Helps me. Grateful for your thoughts today. We still need you here.


    Vincent, thank you for reminding us that this world is not our home.
    What a great reunion heaven will be! Jesus Christ – don’t leave earth without Him.


    Always enjoy your devotions, Vincent. Since I’ve been a Salvationist all my life and a member of the band, I identify with many of your reflections and enjoy them. We may be in our later years, but God can still use us. God bless you.


    Dear Mr. Walter,
    Thank you so much for sharing, what a way to die indeed! I pray I have the grace to do the same when the time comes.


    Dear Walter, Here I thank you for your message. I was so interested in the hymn you mentioned, I went online. I was so pleased to find a site with the Salvation Army band playing and the congregation singing “I’m in Your Hands” It was a hymn I had not heard before.
    Thank you for sharing that, I will try to get the music for it so I can enjoy playing and singing it. Blessings.


    Vincent – I always benefit from your devotionals. Your faith shines through your words. I am sorry that you prematurely lost your son. I am a widow, so I understand the pain of losing your life partner but have no idea what losing a child would be like. My sympathies on the passing of both. As Christians, as you note, we can look forward to the day when we will be re-united with our families. What a glorious day that will be!
    Thank you for tackling a subject I have never seen written about – how to die. Your strength and faith in sharing this devotional will help many. God Bless you.


    Hello Mr. Walter.
    I feel that I must tell you how much I enjoy reading your devotionals!!
    Thought provoking, encouraging, and uplifting!
    Today you brought a tear to my eye and at the same time lifted my spirits. Yes, if we keep our focus on God and His promised and His faithfulness to said, we do know how to die!
    God bless you and keep you and may His face continue to shine upon you and be gracious to you!
    Blessings.


    Wow! Again I’m amazed at how the Holy Spirit is moving, leading, guiding… RIGHT across the EARTH and in the heavenlies as we too pray and look to Jesus. Just to help boost this devotional God gave you to share, in Christ it is perfect!!!
    I did “palliative to departure” care with my Mom, then brother, a believer and good friend. My Mom would often say we are in God’s hands, before she left, and she was a pretty faithful Roman Catholic, believing of course in Jesus. She wanted to go to heaven and asked me to be with her cause she became afraid to “die alone”. Understandably.
    In the middle of her last night here, I’ll never forget when she suddenly woke up, fully alert, (but too weak to whisper) and she was gazing joyfully with wide eyes at something over her (I suspect it was an angel of the Lord Jesus). Was that all the drugs given to her? Hope not!
    Thanks for the share and the prayers, and hope you continue labouring in Christ for as long as He wills!


    Hello Vincent, thank you for your “How to Die” devotional from last week. Your sharing of your experiences with the faithful Christian lady, your wife and your son John were both reassuring and beautiful to absorb. And when I say absorb, I mean that, it is what I try to do (and do, to some extent). You have a wonderful gift for communicating truths in a gentle and definite/clear way.
    I, too, do wonder what it will be like to die. I am a little reluctant to admit that I occasionally remember, and smile, at Woody Allen’s (the movie director) quote “I don’t mind the idea of dying but just doesn’t want to be there when it happens”. But ultimately, I come back to just resting in God’s arms and His truth.
    Hope you are doing well, and we do know for sure that the end of the pandemic does draw closer. God’s blessing.

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