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Remaining Faithful To The End

 

In my own life, I find it helpful to remember that life is short and heaven is ahead. When I do, it makes a difference in how I live.

With that in mind, I thought it was appropriate to share some thoughts from my mom about dying, written in a letter to her pastor.

 Dear Mike,

        You tell us you are to speak of dying the next 3 weeks. Good! I know you will not be addressing seniors only, but we do seem to be the most likely candidates. Knowing you, you will be making much of heaven, a subject which has occupied much of my thoughts these last few years.

        As I have become more and more familiar with medical procedures, I have also been made more aware that the outward man is indeed perishing. My mortality is coming home to me. In other words, I know that I am on the “back side of the last mountain.” Truly, life is “a vapor,” and from the vantage point of 78 years I can assure you it is so! But should I sit down and whine, bemoaning the fact that physical and mental powers are taking flight? May it never be so! Medicine seems to be intent on keeping us going forever! But, good grief! I have already lived 8 years past my allotted time. (However, it does serve the purpose of helping me realize the transition is sure to come.)

        As a teenager 60 years ago I often heard my pastor quote a simple, yet profound truth—

“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ will last."

It seemed so irrelevant then! When I left home for the windy city of Chicago to go to Bible School, I was given my first Scofield Bible, and on the flyleaf inside the cover that same pastor had written—

“this Book will keep you from sin,
or sin will keep you from this Book.”

This I have found to be true! As I grow older I spend a lot of time remembering—not what I had for dinner last night, but all the past; and now there is so much of it! Yes, regretfully, there has been sin, of which I become more and more aware as time goes on. How depressing it would be but for “The Book!” It has become my life.

        How grateful I am that I can be secure in the knowledge that there is no condemnation because I am in Christ Jesus. I love Jude 24. “Now unto Him, who is able to keep (me) from falling…” and even beyond that—“present (me) faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” Isn’t that great! To know we will be finally rid of corruption, and worship Him with a “heart purged into His own purity.”

        So on this “day of my life when the night is falling,” my heart is so full of praise and gratitude to God. He has truly made “my home of life so pleasant,” guiding me with His faithful hand all these years, loving me in spite of myself, confirming to Dad and me His sovereignty through 18 extended years of illness. How I look forward to being reunited with the one who was so dear to me on earth, and other dear family members and friends who are even now beholding His glory. I can hardly wait!

        Yes, He has kept every promise… given me a loving and supportive family and a wonderful church family as well—especially my care group. You are all dear to me. And thank you too, Mike, and the other pastors—for the role you have played in enriching God’s word to my life.

“Oh fathomless mercy, oh infinite grace!
With humble thanksgiving the road we retrace;
Thou never hast failed us, our strength and our stay;
To whom should we turn for the rest of the way?”

        So, I have the promise of His presence. What more could I ask? Just this…

        Pray for me and other seniors in our church:

            --that we will not lose heart but remain faithful to the end—being fully confident that He will give “greater grace” for whatever lies ahead. (Rev. 3:8, “You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.”)

            --that we will be kept free from fear, even as the Prov. 31 woman who “laughed at the future.” (31:25 – NLT) Often we wonder, “What’s out there?” “When will it come?” “What will it be like?” At such times we must remind ourselves that, thanks be to God, this last enemy was already destroyed at the cross. Even now I am comforted by the words of this old hymn:

“God holds the key to all unknown
and I am glad.
If other hands should hold the key,
or if He trusted it to me, I might be sad.”

            --Pray that we not become merely self-absorbed, but focused on that which can be carried into eternal life. There are many needs out there.

            --And pray that our loved ones will be encouraged and given grace as they face the challenge presented by older parents.

            --Finally, please pray that “Christ shall be magnified in (our) bodies whether by life or by death.”

        Clyde Kilby in his “Resolutions” says, “I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence, but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.”

        May it be so for all of us!