But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to think about dying a lot more (isn’t that a cheerful thought!) Not so much about how or when I’m going to die, that doesn’t concern me all that much. And not even so much about eternity, that’s really settled for me and my worldview. What I wonder about is that moment of transition. That step from one reality to the next. What will that be like? I’ve started to think about it in terms of the last great step of faith. I have put my trust in this worldview, in the Father God of the Bible, that everything that He reveals about himself and about me is true. I trust what He says about faith and Jesus and eternity and salvation. I am in fact staking everything on those being true. And approaching that moment of death, when it will be revealed one way or another whether my trust was justified, seems to me to be the chance to make that final faith statement of “YES!” as to whether I will continue to have faith in all of that.
I was over at one of my hero’s house the other day. My friend George was diagnosed with cancer a number of months ago, and the prognosis wasn’t good. Now this is a man who is entirely sold out for Jesus, his greatest desire is to see his friends and family know Jesus like he does. He was willing to go through the chemo and radiation treatments because he hoped it would give him more time to share Jesus with those he loved. We talked at length about this idea of death and faith and facing it in a way that would honor God and putting our trust in that last step that would usher us into eternity. I’m not sure if George ever had any times of fear through this journey, but as far as I could tell, he faced the end of this earthly existence with his trust firmly rooted in the Jesus he loves. When I saw him the other day, I asked him how he was doing faith wise, if he was still being strong and courageous. And while the medication made it difficult for him to speak, he was able to give me a big thumbs up! George made the transition yesterday, he walked out of this reality and into one that is more real, and he did it trusting Jesus each step of the way.
When the early Christian leader Paul was considering that moment when he would see Jesus, he wrote this about himself: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 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.” They could just as easily have been written about George, he is experiencing the truth of those words right now. When I left him the other day, I think I said “I’ll see you later, George.” And by faith I say right here, right now, that I will see him later. He has charted for us a course, exemplified a faith that I badly want to be descriptive of me as well. To finish the race, to keep the faith.
So while 57 may feel like the new 35 for me, that scary number 60 looms in the not too distant future. I of course have no idea what’s left of my earthly journey will look like. But I want to thank you, George, for showing me how to walk it by faith.