Yesterday, I attended the memorial service of a gentleman who died suddenly, leaving his family in utter shock. He and his wife are members of our Sunday School class, and they were present last Sunday, sitting right across the aisle from us.
Monday morning, he was gone. There were some tears at his service, but as friends and family spoke of him, there was also laughter. Always ready with a humorous jibe, Ron often brought a smile to those around him. These fond memories will sustain his loved ones in the coming months and years.
He had suffered an aneurysm late Sunday night, went into surgery Monday morning, and never came out. His wife of 41 years had told him beforehand that he would probably be on a ventilator for a few days, then in the hospital for about a week.
I remember thinking last Sunday that he seemed more quiet than usual--I glanced his way several times, and he was simply not his usual jocund self. Strange how one looks back at such thoughts and wonders about them.
The point of this post is to remind all of us how quickly our lives here on earth can draw to a close. Personally, I will strive even more to avoid taking my loved ones for granted. Ron was a Christian, and according to the Bible, he was instantly in the presence of the Lord: "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8). He woke up from his surgery all right--to find himself in the presence of His Savior, Jesus Christ. What a wonderful and glorious moment for Ron!
The hope and promise of his family is that they will see him again when they themselves reach that heavenly gate, as his wife and grown children are all professed Christians as well. The blessed hope of the believer in Christ is that we will be with Him in eternity--and our loved ones who also knew Him will be waiting there for us. What a comfort that is.
I have known those who scoff at such beliefs. I can only feel sorrow for them; after all, as a believer, what do I have to lose in the next life by believing in Christ? Nothing, but everything to gain. What does a nonbeliever have to lose in the next life? Everything. Why gamble with one's soul?
As stated earlier, life can be gone in an instant, as was the case for Ron. He left behind his greatest legacy: a family who is prepared to meet eternity. There is nothing in this life more important than preparing for eternity--not wealth, not possessions, not power. We will simply leave them behind, gathering dust or be passed to someone else, since we will no longer have need for them. But making certain that we have a place in heaven with the Lord is THE most urgent point in this life. I am thankful that, at age 28, I accepted the Lord's free gift of salvation, giving me eternal life. The only thing I did to gain it was to believe in Christ and accept His free gift: "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved . . . Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:9-10, 13).
I did nothing to earn it, for as stated in Ephesians 2:8-9: "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith--and this not from yourselves. It is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast."
Today is Ron's birthday, and he is celebrating it with the Lord. Because they miss him, his family will be sorrowful today and many days ahead--but they have comfort in knowing that they will see him again in eternity.