by Joe Leavell
“A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” …. –C. S. Lewis
O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
– Psalm 39:4-5
“The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:10-12
Preparing for Birth and for Death
When my wife told me that she was pregnant with our first child we had a choice to make. Can you imagine how foolish it would have been for us to have denied the pregnancy and just carried on as if nothing was going to happen? Imagine seven or eight months as all the signs of an impending child begin to show on my wife’s belly. Think through with me how silly it is to think of not even picking out a place for her to deliver the child, never meeting with a care provider, and not preparing a baby’s room. Imagine my wife giving birth and we had nothing; no diapers, no clothes, no doctor, no crib, nothing. How foolish do you think we would be to ignore something that we knew was coming whether we were ready or not? As important as it is to prepare for the birth of a little one, it is equally important to prepare for death.
As difficult as it is to write and talk to people about, one of the things that all of us must prepare for is our own death and the death of our loved ones. None of us are guaranteed by God to have even tomorrow. As many of you know, my brother passed away from melanoma at the age of 37. I also worked for a stretch of time at a cemetery and saw people buried of all ages, many who made no preparations. You are not guaranteed to live even as long as your 30’s. Unless your name is Enoch or Elijah, or if Jesus comes back before that time, you are going to die. Is that a morbid thought? It’s certainly not comfortable to think about, but it’s the reality of the world in which we face.
The beautiful thing is that because of Christ, we do not have to be in denial about death. We can face the reality of death knowing why it exists and what Jesus did to conquer the horrible reality of our own mortality. Because of Christ, we are free to be honest about our own mortality and reflect with the Psalmist, “Teach me to number my days.”
Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages that we have earned for our sin is death, but the verse does not end there. It goes on to express that the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. If you have never placed your faith and trust in Christ then you are going into eternity unprepared and will perish in your sin. Do not ignore your own mortality but understand that God loved you enough to take your sin on His own shoulders. Christ paid the price for your rebellion against God, and He offers you eternal life after your death. There is nothing that you can do to earn it or do to prepare for it. Jesus did it all on your behalf! His free gift is only something that you can receive in faith and repentance. If you do not know Christ, please contact us, and we would be more than happy to share with you how you can know today that when you die you will be with God eternally.
Like the hard work of preparing for the birth of a child, it is admittedly time consuming and emotionally taxing to prepare for your own death and the death of the ones you love. It’s fun to prepare for a baby’s birth. It’s not as fun when you think about preparing for death. I get it. But this is a matter of wisdom, stewardship, and caring for the ones we love enough to plan ahead for.
This is a tough issue. If this is something that you would you prefer to have some help with or if you would like to talk through your struggle in preparing, please contact us as we would be honored to be a resource that you can use in talking through your mortality and preparations.
In the meantime, here are a few good resources for you to consider as you prepare:
Pastor John Bryson gives a good list, which he calls “the briefcase” to help navigate the waters of preparation.
In addition, there are many good online resources with planning guides that help with not only funeral wishes, but also help with many of the other resources noted in “the briefcase.” This way, if you are taken suddenly, everything will be in place so that your loved ones will not have to wonder if they did things according to your wishes and struggle to make huge financial decisions on one of the worst days of their life.