Picture this. You're working in your yard, maybe cleaning up after a storm. Nothing strenuous. You're 64, but fit and active, and you enjoy this kind of work. You move on to cutting the grass, using a riding mower. After a while, you get tired and go inside the house to rest. You lie down on your bed and take a nap.
And while you're sleeping, your heart stops.
Or try this. You're 28 years old. An athlete, strong, young, healthy. You're practicing the sport you love with your friends all around you. And in that moment, without warning, your heart stops.
Cardiac arrest: two very different individuals, but with the same result. They woke up that morning not knowing that it would be their last.
The first was a dear family friend and pastor. Holly and I were in church with him on Mother's Day. Got to speak with him, shake his hand, hear his silly jokes, sing with him, and listen to one of his last sermons. Nine days later, he was gone. Reverend Wayne Baker left this life, unexpectedly, while sleeping peacefully in his bedroom.
The second incident happened 24 years ago when I was only a teenager. He was Sergei Grinkov, one half of my all-time favorite figure skating duo. He was tall, good-looking, and talented. He, along with his wife and partner, had just won an Olympic gold medal the year before. In November of 95, they were on tour with some of their closest costars and friends. During rehearsal, he collapsed and died. His death was a somber reminder to my young heart that nothing is for certain.
People die. And sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly. My mom always said that death was no respecter of persons. And it's so true. It doesn't matter if you're in your youth, the prime of life, or your golden years, death can reach you.
So what's the point of this post? Why did these two instances have such an impact on me?
First, we don't know how much time we have with our loved ones. We could spend time with them one day, then hear of their passing the very next day. So, in the meantime, how do we want our time with the people around us to be spent? In petty arguments or long-held grudges? Do we want our last conversation to be one where we got the last word? Or would we rather walk away knowing we listened to them and maybe built them up just a little bit?
Or do we want to live with the regret that we missed an opportunity to spend time with someone before they were taken from us? If we knew we would lose a parent, child, sibling, grandparent, cousin, friend, even co-worker the next day, wouldn't we strive to make sure we saw them one last time? And wouldn't we make that visit a sweet and memorable one? With no regrets?
We don't know when we will lose someone dear to us. But we also don't know when we will be the one to leave this earth. What then? What if you are the one to close your eyes for the last time?
As hard as it was to lose Bro. Baker last month, there was this underlying joy and relief in knowing that he was safe in the arms of the Lord he had served faithfully for years. He went to sleep, and the Lord took him home. What a sweet gift.
If I die in my sleep tonight, I know where my soul will be. I have peace knowing that, no matter how sudden or unexpected death may come upon me, I will be okay. I will be more than okay. I will be in eternity with Jesus.
My dear friends and loved ones, please take the time to consider this question: If you die today, where will you be? I know you've heard the question time and again. But take it from someone who was recently reminded at how quickly one can arrive in eternity. It will happen.
Jesus loves you so much. He desires to share His eternal paradise with you. That's why He came to this earth. To pay your debt. To save your soul. To take you to Heaven with him when your time comes. So that you may have the same gift Bro. Baker did when his time came. The peace of being forever with Him...
In His Grip,
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." Psalm 116:15
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." Hebrews 9:27