Over the years, I’ve met so many young people who have walked away from God or became angry with him because “he took my mother (or dad) from me. Why would a good God, a loving God do that?” So a few years ago I decided to prepare our grandchildren for the day of my death. Each of them, roughly 15 years old or over have gotten “the talk.” They’ve now heard straight from me in this life, what death means for true Christians. Here’s the gist of what I told them.
Someday you’re going to get a call from your mother or dad, and you’re going to hear, “your Papa just went to be with the Lord” (or he “passed,” or “died,” or however your family frames death).
Kids, when you hear those words, I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. It’s okay to be sad for Nana, your parents, even yourself. But please don’t feel sad for me. Nothing bad has happened to me. I will be happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I’ll be with Jesus waiting for you. Physical death is not a punishment for believers – it’s the only way we can receive the reward God promised us.
Here’s a twist of irony for you; the better grandfather I was to you in this life, the sadder you’ll be when I die. If I was a jerk, you wouldn’t care. So my loving you so much, has in it, the seed of your future sadness. But still, I wouldn’t change a thing.
But more important than how you feel about me, is how you feel about God. Do not blame God for my death. I belong to him in this life and the next. I love him and trust him and if he thinks it’s time for me to leave this life for my assignment in the next life, I’m absolutely fine with that. I trust God to be loving and kind to me. And I’m hoping you will also.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” 1Thessalonians 4:13
Frankly, it must still surprise God that his children so desperately hang on to life and are scared to death to leave it. I can almost imagine him turning to Jesus and asking with a puzzled look on his face, “Did you not tell them what heaven was like and the rewards we’ve prepared for them? Well, apparently they don’t believe you. Many of them are so afraid of death they want heart transplants at 80, they’ll endure horrible chemo for cancer, just for a few more months of life. Why are they so afraid of death?”
I don’t know.
In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t want to die. I love life. I love my family. I still feel productive. I hope God gives me 20-25 years more and I plan to take reasonable efforts to stay healthy and alive. But I’m not afraid of death. And if you are a believer, death ought to have no fear for you either. If it does, please talk to your pastor and find out what’s wrong.
But, if you believe as I do, pray about having “the talk” with your children and grandchildren, because they will get “the call” some day, just after you get yours and it will be too late if you haven’t. Make sure that they never question the love of Jesus after your death, because you didn’t teach them.
“The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.” Isaiah 57:1, 2
How following Jesus works in real life.
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