Sunday, March 14, 2010

the business of dying... the hope of living

As many of you may already know, last week my Grandfather passed on into glory. It did not come as a shock as he had suffered a stroke in early February and was under hospice care. In fact, in the last two years of Grandpa's life his body just started shutting down - preparing him (and us) for his ultimate debut into heaven.

My last memory of Grandpa (before the full effects of dementia and Alzheimer's kicked in) was of him standing before our family on Christmas day and sharing with us how much God had blessed his life. This was a man whose focus was on Jesus... whose hope was in the Lord... whose eternity was secure in God's grace. This was a man whose life was about love... he loved his wife, his family, his friends... but most of all, he loved his Master. Yes, I remember the heart attitude behind Grandpa's last Christmas speech and the appreciation he carried for a Savior that had proven faithful. I remember thinking with awe, "WOW! What a testimony!" For it was one of those monumental, defining moments of time that will forever surface in my mind each and every Christmas hereafter.

Anyway, this Friday I accompanied my grandmother and other family members to the funeral parlor to wrap up all the loose ends relating to Grandpa's passing. My grandparents have always been very, very frugal individuals and had predetermined many years before that they wanted their bodies donated to science. All arrangements and costs had been taken care of long ago, so our visit on Friday was to finalize Grandpa's final wishes and wrap up any paperwork required by the powers that be.

So, there we sat around the desk of a very sympathetic funeral director who checked off the many details surrounding my grandfather's past. He ran down his list confirming as much information as possible: Name of the deceased... check. Address of the deceased... check. Social Security Number of the deceased... check. Former occupation of the deceased... check. Remaining survivors of the deceased... check. Final wishes of the deceased... check.... etc. etc. etc.

As I watched my grandmother and family members answer the questions posed by the funeral director, I started reflecting: here before us was the business of dying... the final details that follow one's passing. Whether any one of us chooses to acknowledge it or not, someone at sometime will likely be answering these questions about each of our lives... about each of our deaths here on earth.

On my behalf, it is likely that someone will sit before a funeral director or coroner and confirm what they knew about me, Victoria Anderson. They will decide upon the wording for my obituary. They will review and summarize the basic identifying factors about my existence. Everything that will be agreed upon within this meeting will be reported within the confines of a simple 8x10 piece of paper and signed by the witnesses present. They will come to an agreement that the information pertaining to my life was accurately documented, and that I am no longer alive on this planet... that Victoria Anderson no longer exists in this earthly realm. Finally, they will decide what to do with my bodily remains. They will determine whether to hold a memorial in my honor. They will ration out my worldly possessions. Then... after that, my story will conclude and life will go on... without me. A sobering thought, don't you think? Especially when we are soooo consumed with ourselves. Especially when all that is happening today seems to overshadow anything else. But the truth is, both you and I will one day die. Every soul that has been or will be cannot avoid or escape this outcome. We each have a predetermined date with destiny and will, indeed, meet death face-to-face.

While considering all this, I went back to that last Christmas when Grandpa made his speech. I thought about what he actually said. He did not summarize the same details the funeral director concluded. No, Grandpa's life held more than the documentation of an earthly address or factual information. Grandpa's life was important to him because it included the blessing of Jesus. He trusted the words of his Savior. Because of Christ, he lived joyfully in the now of everyday and rejoiced in the hope of what an eternity in God's presence promised. That last Christmas, Grandpa thankfully took note of what God had already granted him, and paced himself toward faithfully reaching the glory that awaited.

So, as I sit here this morning writing to you this blog, I find myself going over the real check list to remember about my Grandfather: Here lived a simple man.... check. A man consumed with sin in need of a Savior... check. A man who followed the call of Christ and trusted Him as Lord over his life... check. A man who now rejoices in the presence of his faithful Redeemer... check. A man who followed THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE directly into the arms of The Almighty... check. Here lived a man who confessed with his mouth and believed in his heart that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. Death has come, but fortunately this ordinary man was saved from destruction. His sin was forgiven. His life redeemed. He was purchased by the blood of the Lamb at Calvary and is now in the living, healthy presence of JESUS forever! Here is a man whose faith has been rewarded with the glorious hope of living... with the presence of pure, holy LOVE! Here is a man alive, new, free! CHECK!!!

Friends, death on this earth is a certainty. Life here is brief. And each of our days are numbered. For this world is temporary... fleeting... finite. Despite all that seems so important in your day-to-day... in your moment-to-moment... do not miss what really matters. Do not overlook WHO really counts! Do you have the hope of salvation? Do you know the love of the Redeemer? Are you following THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE? Are you with JESUS?

I pray that you may know the hope of living in His glory forever. May your life point all those you encounter to seek after His grace. May those who witness your living testimony stop in awe and recognize Jesus in every step, every breath, every moment. With Christ, may you enjoy your new LIFE today and every day hereafter!

"It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth... Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10 & 12)

"God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

"If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. For, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'" (Romans 10:9-10, 13)

"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:16-17, 38-39)

"I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1-2)

Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

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