Somerset County, Pa.
The nine rugged miners had survived certain death. Rescued
from their entombment beneath 240 feet of stone, they now sat together
for a national interview.
Question: "And how did
you prepare for death?"
"I prayed harder than
I ever have," one said.
Another reached under
the bench and produced a muddy white bucket sealed tight. "The notes
we wrote are in here," he said.
With tears in their eyes
the men described how, when death seemed so certain, the last thing
they did was to write these notes to those they loved.
Then they sealed the
notes in the bucket and tied themselves together. That way, "when
we die, if they find one of us, they will find us all." And that
muddy bucket now a sacred treasure would tell of their
love in their final moments on earth.
Some watching that interview
probably wrote or called people to make things right
We spend ourselves on
living and give little thought to dying. "Ill prepare later,"
we say. But death often comes offering no opportunity for final
So, these words are a
gift to you a gift to help you spend time preparing for death.
This is not morbidity. Truth is, if you prepare well to die, youll
live at your peak now, and when you die you will enter an eternity
of complete joy.
We all have an appointment
with death (Hebrews 9:27). You might guess that your death is a
long way off, when actually it might be as soon as
A few months ago my friend
Terry was in seemingly great health: racquetball three times a week,
cholesterol low and body trim. We talked at a reception celebration
Saturday afternoon. He then went home to spend an evening with his
family. But suddenly he slumped forward in that favorite easy chair
and just died. His appointment had come
Thats one reason
why wise people prepare to die when the likelihood of death seems
very far away. Wise people are ready for death whenever it comes.
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Some people think that
eternal life, if it can be found, begins after death. The truth
is, God offers us eternal life during our earthly life. It is Gods
plan that when death comes, we do not have to fear or think we will
face some quantum change. Death, in fact, for those who are prepared,
serves as an embarkation into the fullness of the life we have already
begun to live with God.
Jesus puts it in these
terms: "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes
him [God] who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned;
he has crossed over from death to life" (John 5:24, NIV).
"From death to life"
it is a crossing over during this life, not at the end.
Put your faith and trust
in Jesus. Ask Him to forgive you of your sin and direct your life.
It is then that you "cross over" to life
and are saved from
eternal condemnation. The sting of death, which is sin, is taken
(1 Corinthians 15:56).
When life with Jesus has thus been entered into, death (when it
occurs) will simply facilitate your crossing over fully into eternal
life with God.
So hear Jesus speaking
to you, even as you reflect on these words. Tell Him that you believe
He is the Son of God and Savior of the world
and you want
to cross over into life. Ask Him to put His eternal life within
you. He will. "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord, will
be saved" (Acts 2:21).
Follow up your decision
with being baptized in water. Water baptism means making a public
statement that you have died with Christ and have been raised by
Him to newness of life (Romans 6:3-11).
With your relationship
with Christ in place, you have taken the first and all-important
step in preparing for death.
Second, make sure you
have your own "muddy bucket." Make sure that you are at peace with
all persons, as much as it is possible for you to be. Exercise the
management of your possessions and resources by drawing up a will
that provides in the best way possible for the care of those close
to you and that expresses your commitment to the work of God after
Third, live in real fellowship
and loving relationships with other believers who have passed from
death to life, like you have. These people are part of the great
community of heaven. They are truly part of your forever family.
They will bless you in this life, miss you after you have died,
and spend eternity with you in the presence of God. Time invested
now will make the family reunion then even more rich and joyful.
Fourth, bank in heaven.
You can take it with you. Build up your account with God. The benefits?
Total security. The pleasure of God. A heart that progressively
moves to heaven. Jesus said, "Store up for yourselves treasures
where thieves do not break in and steal. For where
your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:20,21).
Move your heart to heaven now and your body will follow happily.
Finally, live each day
with the primary objective to please God in all you do. He has a
plan for your life. Recognizing that plan and doing it makes for
a daily experience of joy and the certain confidence of future blessing
and reward. Find His pace in life and dont allow busyness
to squeeze out your intimacy with God. Intimacy with Him brings
the strength to face any challenges that come and especially to
be strong in the final challenge of death.
People throughout history
have faced that final challenge in victory.
Jesus himself gives to us a model when, at the end of His earthly
life, He prays to the Father: "I have brought you glory on earth
by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify
me in your presence" (John 17:4,5).
Bringing God glory now
means you can face death certain of the Fathers pleasure.
You can look forward to hearing, "Well done, good and faithful servant!
You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge
of many things. Come and share your masters happiness!" (Matthew
The apostle Paul, chained within the depths of an evil dungeon,
knows that death will soon be visited upon him violently. But here
is his optimism and his settled assessment of what is before him:
"The time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in
store 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 longed for his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Finishing the race God
gives to us and keeping faith with Him is the foundation for confidence
when facing death.
On a gray Monday before 6 a.m., Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an evangelical
pastor, was taken from his cell by the Nazis. To a friend he said,
"This is the end for me the beginning of life." At the place
of execution, he prayed and then climbed the steps to the gallows,
brave and composed. He died entirely submissive to the will of God.
Having "crossed over,"
he crossed over.
Having been prepared
to die, he fully entered life.
When death finally comes,
whether suddenly or slowly, preparation now will remove its exercise
of terror on your soul. Death, then, becomes the opening of a door
to the corridors of heaven.
"It is not darkness you
are going to,
for God is Light.
is not lonely,
for Christ is with you.
It is not unknown country,
for Christ is there"
(Charles Kingsley, Handbook to Christian Belief, 1982).
Argue is pastor of Christs Place (Assemblies of God) in Lincoln,
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