Tom just left his classic red Buick Electra convertible. Actually, when he died he left everything … and so will you!
“Are you ready to die today?” That’s the question that often grips me every morning. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 7:4, “A wise person thinks a lot about death.”
David Gibson authored a book, Living Life Backward - How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us To Live in Light of the End. He wrote, “If you knew that death would happen tomorrow, how would you live today? That is the point of Ecclesiastes.” And isn’t that the point for us all. The truth is that no one of us knows for sure. Tom was 86 years old when he died; however a cousin of mine died before the age of 8!
When it comes to the length of our life, neither you nor I have any guarantees. This could be the last thing I ever write or you ever read. If that’s the case, ponder these words from The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis.
Happy is he that always hath the hour of his death before his eyes and daily prepareth himself to die…
When it is morning think thou mayest die before night and when evening comes dare not to promise thyself the next morning.
Be thou therefore always in readiness and so lead thy life so that death may never take thee unprepared.
When my father died at the age of 83 his in-box was empty. Dad told me that he prayed every night with his palms open saying, “Lord, I’m ready to go any time you are ready to take me!” That’s a bold prayer and frankly I’m not so sure I’m ready to pray it. I still have some immediate things that I want and hope to do.
I begin every day with a “To-do-list.” Some of the chores on my list today range from the cleaning of my gutters to the clarifying of some financial accounts. Both are important to me and to “my wife for life.” Linda also has her own “To-Do-List,” and quite frankly she regularly adds some items to mine! That’s my life, and that’s not a complaint, I want to finish well by serving my wife well.
Finishing well is everyone’s desire. When it comes to the stewarding of stuff I don’t want to leave my wife in a lurch. However, as hard as I try there always seems to be something else to get done, and that’s a good thing. I always feel that I have something significant yet to do; however, while I have several things in the immediate category I have nothing left to do that in the ultimate category.
Jesus has taken care of everything that is of ultimate importance. As I like to remind others, and most of all myself, the position of Savior has been taken. He has everything under control; therefore, if this is my last day I can relax in His sovereignty!
As I was preparing for Tom’s funeral early on Tuesday I found some insights from another funeral years ago that really inspired me. Just before his death, Bob Spence, a former staff member, said: “I’m in the valley of the shadow of death and it’s not so bad… I’m as happy as I can be and I don’t have anything to request of Him.”
Bob didn’t leave a classic Buick behind like Tom - what each of them left was a blessing. By God’s grace the same will be true for me and for you. As Joseph Myers wrote in, The Search to Belong, our true belongings are not our possessions but the people who belong to us and those to whom we belong.
We can’t take anything with us and that’s okay. The only things that are eternal are the people of God and the Word of God. Those are the only things that we ultimately ought to care about.
What will you leave behind? The finest legacy anyone can leave, the ultimate mark of finishing well, is the blessing of love - love for Lord and for those He has blessed us with.