Death.

“But though He causes grief, yet will He be moved to compassion according to the multitude of His loving-kindness and tender mercy.  For He does not willingly and from His heart afflict or grieve the children of men…”    -Lamentations 3:32-33

Death is inevitable, scary, sad, and has a terrible finality to it.  I’d seen death before, my first recallable experience being when my great Grandpa Hartman died in his 80’s.  We expect 80 year olds to die — but a normal 11 year old doesn’t expect a friend to die.  Thursday, April 8, 2004 was my first real wake up call with death.  I was dusting the piano when we got a phone call from our friends down the road.  Mom hung up the phone in tears and told me that my friend Kelli had been hurt really bad in a go-cart accident.  We didn’t know at the time, but she had already died — she was my age.  In the coming days, I cried and verbally cried out to God while doing the outside chores.  I remember singing “Because He Lives” in a breaking voice while gathering eggs from the chicken coop.  Kelli Ann Bidlack.  I’d known her since we were like 5.  She and most of her siblings were at our place just the DAY before…  I had said “see you Sunday!” as they packed up to leave.  I remember thinking that I should add ‘Lord willing,’ but, as I later regretted, I didn’t.

“WHY?” the question was always not far from the surface of my mind.  “Why would God just let this happen?”  “Why didn’t He raise her back up?”  “Why did He allow it in the first place?”

Now, almost 7 years later, these questions still surface, but now I know for a surety what I did not know then.  God is sovereign. He knows all things, and He doesn’t allow us to go through something we cannot bear.  Will the question ever be solved?  No, these things probably will not ever totally make sense until we see Jesus face to face.  Only God is good, and He is good all the time.  We must trust that He knows what we’re going through.  He knows our pain!  To think!  He GAVE UP His Son, knowing what Jesus was to endure.  And Jesus — He obeyed His Father, became obedient unto death, even death on a cross!  Wow!

Death is everywhere.  There is a 100% chance of dying.  I’ve been to three funerals in the last few months.  One of them was for a second-cousin, Krystle.  A gunman came into the grocery where she worked and killed her and a shopper before dying in a shootout with the police.  She was 20.  Soon after this, a snow plow in our area failed to stop, ramming into the side of a semi-trailer which then jack-knifed into the path of an oncoming car.  Another 20 year old met his Maker in what we would call an untimely, or premature death.

This thing, death, has always made me take a sober look at myself.  “Is my heart right with God?” “Am I walking the path that God desires me to be on?”  “Does my life reflect glory and praise to God?” “How will I be remembered by my family?” “Will I have made an eternal impact for Christ’s kingdom?” “Am I living as if today will be my last?”
These questions, and others have haunted my thoughts since that day when Kelli died, and I still ask them of myself today.  Death is no respecter of age.  It can come to any one of us at any time.  I may live a long life like my great Grandpa Burkey — I may go water skiing when I am 90, ride into the backyard with my power wheelchair, be buried the day before my 95th birthday…  But of what use is all of this without Christ?  If I leave behind a bunch of people who didn’t see Jesus’ reflection through me, then my life was for naught.  Many start out well, but not that many finish well. We need look no further than the Bible for examples of this (Solomon, Eli, Samuel, etc.).

The last funeral I was at, I knew without a doubt that the preacher wasn’t bluffing when he said that Mrs. Rhodes was in Heaven.  Mrs. Rhodes was a wonderful lady who loved Jesus and her family.  I will see her again!!!  Thank you Jesus for helping her finish well.  Help me, and may we all make it our goal to do just that.

FINISH WELL.

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