Posts Tagged ‘death’
These are fearful words to most of us, and rightly so. To be told that you have heart disease is to be told of a fundamental threat to life. Sometimes the only options are radical surgery and a complete revolution in our lifestyle. Most of us – were we or one of our family members in such a position – would be very quick to do whatever was necessary to put the situation right. After all, our life would be on the line.
But there is a yet more terrible heart disease which we are often all too ready to ignore, but which kills us all. Even as you read, you are suffering from this heart disease, and you need to know the symptoms, diagnosis and cure.
Its symptoms are very evident. Are you self-centred? Are you envious of what others have? Do you lie and cheat? Do you curse and blaspheme? Do you get drunk? Have you ever stolen? Do you want or have you had a sexual relationship with someone who is not your husband or wife? Are you often angry? Do you hate someone? Do you never go to worship God? Do you ignore Sunday, God’s day, and do whatever you like? Do you think nothing of Jesus Christ? Are you disobedient to your parents? If any or all of the above symptoms are present, then you suffer from this heart disease
The diagnosis is equally plain. “From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark’s Gospel, chapter 7, verses 21-23). In other words, you have a sinful heart that is contrary to God and his law, and for which you deserve to be condemned and punished. In one sense, you are already dead: dead in trespasses and sins.
Critically, then, is there a cure? Yes! God has provided a means to be healed from this most terrible disease of sin, but it requires radical surgery and a complete revolution in lifestyle. In Psalm 51, verse 10, we find a man with a sinful heart crying out to God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Only this can save you from your sins. You need a new, clean heart from God, and you need to depart utterly from all your sinful ways.
Consider what is at stake: with your terrible heart disease of sin, you have only misery and condemnation to come. Get a new heart from God: he is rich in mercy to make men who are dead because of sin alive together with Christ. Come, then, to Jesus Christ, and you shall have everlasting life.
I appreciated David Murray’s letter to a beloved friend on the eve of that friend’s death, ending:
My heart fills with love and my eyes well up with tears as I bid you a last farewell from this sin-sick world.
I will never forget you.
See you “in the morning.”
It is no small thing so to live as to be worthy of such parting words.
Kevin DeYoung passes on a description of the death of Sarah Hodge, wife of Charles:
The next death that visited Hodge was infinitely dearer to him. On Christmas Day 1849, just four months after her return to Princeton with her daughter and grandchild, Sarah “softly & sweetly fell asleep in Jesus.” She most probably fell victim to uterine cancer.
Sarah’s health had begun to deteriorate soon after her return, and by December her condition was such that Hodge had lost all hope of recovery. In her final weeks, he personally nursed Sarah, spending countless hours simply lying next to her. During these times, he held her hand, and conversed with her when she had the strength. The depth of their love remained so intense that Hodge later commented that “to the last she was like a girl in love.” During her final weeks, Sarah asked Hodge to tell her in detail “how much you love me,” and they spent time recounting the high points of their life together.
Hodge’s last hours with his wife were particularly poignant. As her life ebbed away, Sarah looked at her children gathered around her bed and quietly murmured “I give them to God.” Hodge then asked her if she had thought him a devoted husband to which she replied as “she sweetly passed her hand over” his face: “There never was such another.” (Charles Hodge, 258)
Kevin then asks a good question:
Married couples, if you imagine that your final moments together will be like this, rejoice and again I say rejoice. Let the thought of such bittersweet sorrow put your present troubles and conflicts in perspective. But if this scene feels like an impossible dream, what must you change now so you and your spouse can die like this later?
Though I live in these days
Why should I evil fear,
When sin and death around me tread,
When wicked men draw near?
The wealth of earth will fade,
And life cannot be bought,
The godless soul will boast in vain,
And riches come to nought.
Both fool and wise will die,
Their wealth will be passed on,
Their works, their goods, their dwelling place,
From father down to son.
Like flowers in the field
Their glory dies and fades;
The foolish man says, “This is all:”
His words are swept away.
Fools go down to the grave
And in death’s shadow lie;
The upright man dominion has
When worldly men must die.
The beauty of the world
Consumed within its graves;
But God shall be my dwelling place,
My soul received and saved.
So as I walk this world
I fear not evil men.
Their power, their wealth, their glory here
Shall not pass on with them.
Like beasts that perish they,
Not blessed by God above,
Who gives to us his lasting gifts,
And true, eternal love.
See all hymns and psalms.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard (expressed by every male patient)
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
It is a list that rather reveals the fears with which we live. I recall words from the deathbed of Major-General Sir Henry Havelock (not because I was there, you understand): “I have for forty years so ruled my life that when death came I might face it without fear.” If that will be so for us, alongside of gospel hope expressed in a life of righteousness, we would do well to consider whether or not we are living in fear.
Robert Bruce, the disciple of John Knox and Andrew Melville, died at Kinnaird on July 27th, 1631. He had come to breakfast and his younger daughter sat by his side. As he mused in silence, suddenly he cried, ‘Hold, daughter, hold; my Master calleth me.’ He asked that the Bible should be brought, but his sight failed him and he could not read. ‘Cast me up the eighth of Romans,’ cried he, and he repeated much of the latter portion of this Scripture till he came to the last two verses: ‘I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ ‘Set my finger on these words,’ said the blind, dying man; ‘God be with you, my children. I have breakfasted with you, and shall sup with my Lord Jesus this night. I die believing these words.’
Marcus L. Loane, The Hope of Glory (Waco, 1968), page 160.
It is worth remembering that we do not get to die like this if we do not pursue the call to live like this.
HT: Ray Ortlund.
What can I do for him now? What can I still give?
Flowers? No, the hospital will not permit them in his room, and he would not be able to appreciate them.
Books? No, for he lacks the strength to hold them and the sight to read them.
Food? No, for he can no longer eat, and only drips of water have gone into his body over the last ten days.
Clothes? No, for his emaciated frame will not need them for much longer.
What can I give? The only things I have left to give are truth and love. I can speak of the love of God in Christ and show love by being there and caring as I can. Not to deny the other things, of course, but this actually helps to set priorities for those who are not on their deathbeds. What do men need more than truth and love? We should not wait until death looms before we give these gifts. The only time to prepare for death is life. Not only must I prepare others, God helping me, but I myself must so live as to be ready to die.