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.