Facing the Future with Joy and Aplomb

Facing the Future with Joy and Aplomb

Because I am going through a serious illness, I find that whether I am exercising at the YMCA, or shopping at the store, or doing something else, I frequently think about life and death issues. I expectantly pray for healing of my body now, but I also know that someday Jesus will call me, and everyone else, home. Not only do I reflect on my own death, but at times I reflect on the fact that everyone I see must also cross that chasm.  Everyone I see on a day at the gym faces their own death in some future moment. This is quite a thought. It tends to make me pray for everyone.

Death is a certain trial that we must all face. No one can avoid it, but mostly we do avoid thinking about it, because, we think, “what good would it do?” Actually it might do us some good.

For most of us our own death is a “biggie.” It is huge, major… “a real bummer” as some in my generation might say. For those who believe that death is ceasing to exist---it threatens to crush and annihilate us. For those of us who believe that because of the free gift of God in Christ, and because of our relationship with Him, we shall live gloriously beyond death, it is still the most major transition we ever will have to make. And it will require much grace to cross that bridge with confidence, hope, and trust in Him.

So I look around at the people exercising on various machines at the YMCA—black and white, young and old, male and female. “All will die,” I think to myself. We are united in that each and every one of us has this in front of them. I am perhaps sicker than many of them, but that only means that, unless I am healed—and I hope I am—I will go through death a little ahead of them. I want them all to know Christ as I do.

Once we know Christ, it may not necessarily be a bad thing to get it over with sooner rather than later. (If you are on a ship where the pirates have taken over and they have lined up everyone to walk the plank, is it really better to be at the end of that line rather than at the beginning? But if you are at the end of the line, you can comfort those in the line ahead of you and tell them about Jesus.)

Into this jumbled and un-sanctified mess of thoughts penetrates the Voice of Jesus. He says to me, “I go to prepare a place for you!” He says, “Live a day at a time and praise Me!” He says, “enjoy Me today.” He whispers, “In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you.” To the repentant thief on the cross (and to me), he says, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” To the sisters of his dead friend Lazarus (and to you) he says, “I am the resurrection and the life; though a man die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” And as he always said in so many different situations, we hear Jesus urging us, “Fear not.”
When I was a child, my pastor, John Neville taught us, “You cannot live unless you are prepared to die.” I believe that. I want to live, but I am also prepared to die, because death will not end the life with Jesus I now enjoy, but that life will be intensified after I die.

I Timothy 1:12 says “For this reason, even though I suffer as I do, I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.”

Winfield Casey Jones is a retired pastor and can be reached at wrjones2002@gmail.com.This column first appeared in the Pearland and Friendswood Reporter News.


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