The recent killing of four marines in Chattanooga raises the question, at least for me, of why today? It’s a question I ponder about death. In the case of my dad, it was death by cancer. He clung to life until the appointed day of his death.
As the marines drove to work that day, they had no foreknowledge of the fate that awaited them. That day they were in the right place at the wrong time.
I understand God has given mankind freewill and the choices we make will impact our life as well as the life of others. The gunman of the marines choose the day he would purposely fire an AK-47 rifle at innocent people. In the process, he was empowered to determine the day he and four others would die.
Certainly the families of the slain, like me, have asked why today. As I try to wrap my thoughts around death, I am reminded that scriptures only provide a glimpse into the mystery of death.
“It is in the plan that all men die once. After that, they will stand before God and be judged.” Hebrews 9:27 NLV “Man’s days are determined; you (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” Job 14:5
In this age of electronic devices death is broadcasted in real-time and reminds us that life is but a breath; it can end with little or no warning. Even as I write this piece another senseless massacre has taken place in a Louisiana movie theater; three people are dead and others seriously injured.
What I do know about death is we will all die. Some will experience a prolonged death; others may die instantaneously, accidentally or by choice. The knowledge that death is inevitable poses a greater question. Are we prepared to meet our maker when that why today moment happens?
The Psalmist said, “My whole life is in your hands.” Psalm 31:15 NIRV
When we trust that God is sovereign and in control of all things, the victory of the cross overcomes the fear of death. When our life is in God’s hands the why today question is answered with why not today.
I stood next to the bed and clasped my hands around her frail fingers and squeezed them gently. No words were spoken, after thirty years of friendship; there was no need to speak anything. She had fought long and hard but we both knew this was our final good-bye.
To silently gaze into the eyes of someone preparing to greet death is a holy experience. In the last few minutes before death calls there is one last chance to decide where we will spend eternity. The angel of death stands ready for acknowledgement from God, “I own this soul, claim it and put it on the next chartered flight to Heaven.”
But sometimes death gives no notice and there are no second chances; no time for pleas of forgiveness or opportunities for a holy experience. Once you are laid out on a stretcher and rolled into the morgue your unused trump card for salvation is no longer valid. It expired upon death.
Why take chances?
Engage in a holy experience with God before you stare death in the face. My friend was fortunate to have time to prepare for her departure from this world. Those who stood at her bedside were able to share in the holy experience of her passing. As she drew her last breath there was a spiritual assurance that all was well with her soul.
Is it well with your soul?
Life holds no guarantees about the time or circumstances of our death. When the death angel arrives, we are faced with two roadways that lead to our eternal destination. One is marked ‘I believe in Jesus’ with road signs that lead us to a heavenly jubilee. The second reads, ‘I deny Jesus’. The road signs spiral downward and direct us to a bottomless pit of destruction.
“They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.” 2 Thessalonians 1:9
Life offers us the opportunity to choice life over death. Jesus stands ready to forgive and bring redemption to our imperfect life. I encourage you to have a holy experience with the savior of your soul before you lay prostrate on a gurney headed for the morgue.
“God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong.” John 1:9