And so are you. Now I don’t have a terminal illness (other than life itself). But I want you to think for a moment. How did that make you feel when someone you know said, “I’m dying?”
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Being in the ministry for a few good years now, I have seen death on the doorstep of way too many people. I have visited terminally ill people in the hospital, in their homes, and even people who could have died in car crashes. I even showed up soon after someone had committed suicide.
One story sticks out. I was on my way, a few years ago, to the church bowling league. It was Saturday night and I was heading down a little 2-lane road that had a surprising amount of traffic on it. About 5 cars in front of me I see a car in the other lane swerve and clip the other car head on. The car in our lane stayed under control. The car in the other lane flew off the road and slammed square into a telephone pole head on at probably 40-50 miles per hour. Everyone stopped and went running to catch a glimpse. I remember seeing people pulling out their cell phones and taking pictures of the woman in the car. A few of us ran to the woman and tried to see what was wrong. She was awake and clearly in shock. I reached out my hand to her first and held hers as others checked the car to make sure everything was safe. I was praying hard because she didn’t say anything. She was in tears.
Then I asked her if she could hear me.
She said she could. I asked her to explain what she was feeling so I could describe it to paramedics in case she lost consciousness. She said her body hurts but she couldn’t feel her legs.
I’m no expert, but I have come to know by watching enough movies that it isn’t good to lose feeling in any part of your body.
So I asked her a very simple question.
“Ma’am, do you know Jesus?”
Her crying got louder.
“Ma’am, I don’t know what the future brings for you. You are in a pretty bad accident. But if the worst does happen, I want to make sure you have the opportunity to know the Creator of the universe and the God of all peace. Do you know Jesus?”
She would not allow me to let go of her hand, even while she was being extracted from the car. The firefighters and paramedics were upset that I stayed there with her, but it is what she wanted. If she died, she wanted someone to be holding her hand.
I followed up a little while later with her in the hospital in Baltimore. She had to have her legs partially amputated, but she was alive. I never gave her my name. But I gave her a list of churches near where she lived.
Over the few years since, I have lost touch with her. But last I had known, she was in touch with a Bible-believing church and they had sent people to the hospital to be with her.
That woman wasn’t close to home and had no one she knew nearby when death came knocking.
2 Peter 1:12-15 – Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
But how would you react if you knew that someone you loved was dying. Or how would you change if you were given the death sentence yourself?
I think of my kids, for example, if I were to learn I was dying. How would I change how I parent?
Now the follow up to that is, why wait?
Each time I say goodbye to my kids, it could very well be the last time. You never know what will happen.
What kind of legacy are leaving for your children?
I was blessed to see one my church’s elders and his son speak at a men’s breakfast recently. He shared the story of how his life was messed up when he was young and then his son shared how his life has been blessed since he followed God’s ways growing up. His dad, after coming clean and turning to Christ, created a legacy of Christ in his family. It is that kind of legacy that we as parents are meant to leave our kids.
But it doesn’t stop with our families.
When you leave work for the day, do the people see the legacy of Christ you left behind? How about when you go to church? Do people see your legacy of Christ? What about on social media? Do people see Christ when they see your posts?
No, not every word that comes out of your mouth needs to be Scripture.
That isn’t what I mean at all.
It comes from our actions just as much as our words.
And on that final day of your life…
When you are laying in that coffin…
2 Timothy 4:6-8 – For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
As the line of people come up to view you for one last time…
What will they say?
“He was a good man?”
“That rat scoundrel?”
How about “There was a man who loved Jesus and showed it through both his words and his actions.”
I hope so.
That will be your legacy.
Your name will fade away. But the impact you make on peoples’ hearts will not.
Psalm 78:4 –We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.