Because I Could Not Stop for Death . . .

There’s nothing clever in this blog post. If you’re in the mood for clever, click to the next blog on your list. No harm, no foul.

I want to be careful not to cloud this message in a flurry of metaphors or a pile of prose. The word on my heart is best delivered straight up, like the ghost of Christmas present in the Bill Murray movie Scrooged. She appears to the main character and plants a blow that brings him to his knees. “Sometimes you have to slap them in the face!” she says. “Sometimes the truth is painful but it’s made your cheeks rosy and your eyes bright!” That line is so funny because we know it’s true.

So, here’s the plain truth in one unclever line: Everyone dies.

We like to shove that knowledge aside. We set it on the back shelf of our soul’s pantry to face every morning with energy and optimism. But then, death breaks in and sucker punches us with the reminder that he’s waiting and we don’t know where or when.

Carrie Fisher dies and the internet is awash in mourning – not Princess Leia! A child dies at Christmas. A widow barely survives her first holidays alone. A loved one receives a prognosis measured in weeks or months, not years. A car crashes and a friend we sat beside on Sunday morning is buried on Wednesday. It isn’t right. Everything within us rails at death – with good reason – we were designed to live forever.

God has an eternal view on life because He is eternal. He created us to be in relationship with Him forever but we made the choice to rebel against Him. Here, He mercifully intervened by exiling us from Eden before we could eat from the tree of life lest we live forever in our fallen state. Instead, He lovingly provided a path for us to eternal life through Jesus Christ.

One path. Jesus. Only Jesus.

Sometimes I feel smug and self-righteous that I’m not so pushy and culturally insensitive as my Christian predecessors as to push my faith on others with heavy-handed conversation about hellfire and brimstone. My generation embraced “friendship evangelism” with lots of sound reasoning and I do believe in approaching others with respect and patience.

But, sometimes you do have to “slap them in the face.” The truth is painful but it does make your cheeks rosy and your eyes bright.

I can’t deny that my most successful conversation about the gospel occurred in a room full of friends mourning the death of a woman we all loved, taken from us before we were ready. An old schoolmate was there and remarked that the grieving Christians seemed different in grief than others he’d known. I asked him if He’d ever considered following Jesus.

“No,” he explained, “I figure I’ll take the approach of the thief on the cross and ask forgiveness at the last hour.”

I was brought up short and forgot to be delicate, “This may be your final hour, have you considered that? We don’t all get that final understanding that death is approaching. It could come on us at any minute and on the other side is heaven or hell. Are you willing to roll the dice on where you spend eternity? What are you waiting for? Decide about Jesus right now. He is God. Are you with Him or not?”

He decided at that moment to follow Jesus. Grief removed my sense of delicacy and thank God it did.

For many years, Christians were indelicate about preaching the gospel and this offended some but you know what, being offended doesn’t actually hurt a person or alter them in any way. Death. Death is the true offense. Death is the offense that alters everything – forever. And it comes for us all.

Carrie Fisher probably didn’t get on that plane thinking it would be her final flight. We don’t know when death will come for those in our lives but God does so we must stay sensitive – not to human feelings or political correctness but to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

And we need to take seriously the truth that we will die. For some, death will be a door into the arms of the Heavenly Father and into the rest of the adventure. For the rest, it will be an entry into a Fatherless eternity.

No matter how we dress that up it’s an ugly, offensive truth. No matter how storied the lead-in, the ending may creep up unexpectedly. No matter how soft the approach, the landing of that truth is a solid blow to personal comfort. But as surely as we all must face death, so must we face Jesus and decide if we’ll accept His sacrifice on our behalf or reject Him forever.

The force is a good story but it’s not real. Jesus and death are real. Consider Jesus for yourself. Listen to the Holy Spirit and speak when He prompts you to speak. It’s not the words you use that matter, it’s the power of Jesus behind them. Trust not the words, trust only Jesus for Jesus is enough.

Death is not the natural order. That’s a lie. Life unto life – eternally in the light of Christ. This is the truth and the way. Join the resistance. Defy death by choosing life in Christ and passing the truth onto others.

And THEN, when you’ve chosen to follow Him, live with eternity in your sights. Live as if you have forever. Spend your days, this side of glory, on Him because He spent it all on you.

Christians do need to be more sensitive – to the leading of the Holy Spirit – and to the truth that death comes for us all but Jesus knows the way through death into life. Follow Him.

If you’ve decided to follow Jesus, these sites are wonderful reminders of why. If you haven’t yet chosen to follow Jesus, these sites explain the truth and the way – If you’re reading this, Jesus is calling you to Himself.,

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    The Conversation

  1. TJ says:

    I recently lost my uncle due to cancer. He had time to prepare. Within a week of this I lost 2 friends. One went to bed with his wife and she woke up alone. The othet kissed his wife and kids and headed off to work only to have a truck heading in oppisite direction crosd over the dividing line. They crashed both going 90 kms an hour. The car following my friend then crashed into his back end. As you said, death comes for us all. Some like my uncle in a hospital with time to say goodbye and prepare his soul, but sadly and probably for my friends they had no idea what hit them. I found myself praying for my friend in the car crash that it all happenef to fast for him to realize what was going on due to the fact he was ejected out the windsheild even though he was wearing his seatbelt, while praying for his soul. We must face the fact death will come if your ready or not, what happens after that is up to us. Jesus is waiting on us to accept his gift. I do have a problem with what you said though. To die without forgiveness is more than a entry into a faterless eternity. It is a place of pain,torture,suffering,fear,torment but worst of all seperation from God and the knowledge that it was totally and completely by acting on free will of choice. I cannot imagine how horriable the knowledge would be or the depth of sorrow of being separated and cut off from God for eternity would be. I think we forget about our adversary and he likes it that way. By not believing iin his existance is denying Christ, his mission, suffering and gift of forgiveness. That possible eternity terrifies me. I choose love, I choose God .

  2. more info says:

    I quite like looking through a post that can make men and women think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!