Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
"Our God is the God from whom cometh salvation: God is the Lord by whom we escape
death." Martin Luther
"Live in Christ, live in Christ, and the flesh need not fear death." John Knox
"Thou, Lord, bruisest me; but I am abundantly satisfied, since it is from Thy
hand." John Calvin
"The best of all is, God is with us. Farewell! Farewell!" John Wesley
"I shall be satisfied with Thy likeness--satisfied, satisfied!" Charles Wesley
It is possible to live under a delusion. You think you are kind, considerate and
gracious when you are really not. You think you are building positive stuff into your
children when in reality, if you could check with them twenty years later, you really
didn't. What if you could read your own obituary? How do people really see you? Here is
the story of a man who did.
One morning in 1888 Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, awoke
to read his own obituary. The obituary was printed as a result of a simple journalistic
error. You see, it was Alfred's brother that had died and the reporter carelessly reported
the death of the wrong brother. Any man would be disturbed under the circumstances, but to
Alfred the shock was overwhelming because he saw himself as the world saw him. The
"Dynamite King," the great industrialist who had made an immense fortune from
explosives. This, as far as the general public was concerned, was the entire purpose of
Alfred's life. None of his true intentions to break down the barriers that separated men
and ideas for peace were recognized or given serious consideration. He was simply a
merchant of death. And for that alone he would be remembered. As he read the obituary with
horror, he resolved to make clear to the world the true meaning and purpose of his life.
This could be done through the final disposition of his fortune. His last will and
testament--an endowment of five annual prizes for outstanding contributions in
physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace (the sixth category of
economics was added later)--would be the expression of his life's ideals and ultimately
would be why we would remember him. The result was the most valuable of prizes given to
those who had done the most for the cause of world peace. It is called today, the
"Nobel Peace Prize."
John Wesley preached his last sermon of Feb 17, 1791, in Lambeth on the text "Seek
ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near" (Isa 55:6). The
following day, a very sick man, he was put to bed in his home on City Road. During the days
of his illness, he often repeated the words from one of his brother's hymns: I the chief
of sinners am, But Jesus died for me! His last words were, "The best of all is, God
is with us!" He died March 2, 1791.
W. Wiersbe, Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and
Preachers, p. 245.
Death is not extinguishing the light from the Christian; it is putting out the lamp
because the dawn has come.
When you're old as I am, there are all sorts of extremely pleasant things that happen
to you...the pleasantest of all is that you wake up in the night and you find that you are
half in and half out of your battered old carcass. It seems quite a tossup whether you go
back and resume full occupancy of your mortal body, or make off toward the bright glow you
see in the sky, the lights of the city of God.
Malcolm Muggeridge, Christian Times, September 3, 1982.
In Valladolid, Spain, where Christopher Columbus died in 1506, stands a monument
commemorating the great discoverer. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the memorial
is a statue of a lion destroying one of the Latin words that had been part of Spain's
motto for centuries. Before Columbus made his voyages, the Spaniards thought they had
reached the outer limits of earth. Thus their motto was "Ne Plus Ultra," which
means "No More Beyond." The word being torn away by the lion is "Ne"
or "no," making it read "Plus Ultra." Columbus had proven that there
was indeed "more beyond."
On his deathbed, British preacher Charles Simeon smiled brightly and asked the people
gathered in his room, "What do you think especially gives me comfort at this
time?" When they all remained silent, he exclaimed, "The creation! I ask myself,
'Did Jehovah create the world or did I?' He did! Now if He made the world and all the
rolling spheres of the universe, He certainly can take care of me. Into Jesus' hands I can
safely commit my spirit!"
Hudson Taylor, founder of China Inland Mission, in the closing months of his life said
to a friend, "I am so weak. I can't read my Bible. I can't even pray. I can only lie
still in God's arms like a little child and trust."
Our Daily Bread, January 1, 1994.
Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next
room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we
were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in
the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air
of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed
together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without a ghost of a shadow upon
it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute
and unbroken continuity. What is death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of
mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very
near, just around the corner. All is well.
from the book September.
In 1846 former president John Quincy Adams suffered a stroke. Although he returned to
Congress the following year, his health was clearly failing. Daniel Webster described his
last meeting with Adams: "Someone, a friend of his, came in and made particular
inquiry of his health. Adams answered, 'I inhabit a weak, frail, decayed tenement;
battered by the winds and broken in upon by the storms, and from all I can learn, the
landlord does not intend to repair.'"
Today in the Word, April 11, 1992.
Mark Twain, became morose and weary of life. Shortly before his death, he wrote,
"A myriad of men are born; they labor and sweat and struggle;...they squabble and
scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other; age creeps upon
them; infirmities follow; ...those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is
turned to aching grief. It (the release) comes at last--the only unpoisoned gift earth
ever had for them--and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence,...a
world which will lament them a day and forget them forever."
Gen. William Nelson, a Union general in the Civil War, was consumed with the battles in
Kentucky when a brawl ended up in his being shot, mortally, in the chest. He had faced
many battles, but the fatal blow came while he was relaxing with his men. As such, he was
caught fully unprepared. As men ran up the stairs to help him, the general had just one
phrase, "Send for a clergyman; I wish to be baptized." He never had time as an
adolescent or young man. He never had time as a private or after he became a general. And
his wound did not stop or slow down the war. Everything around him was left virtually
unchanged--except for the general's priorities. With only minutes left before he entered
eternity, the one thing he cared about was preparing for eternity. He wanted to be
baptized. Thirty minutes later he was dead.
Christian Times, October 3, 1994, p. 26.
Thou oughtest so to order thyself in all thy thoughts and actions, as if today thou
wert about to die. Labor now to live so, that at the hour of death thou mayest rather
rejoice than fear.
Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ.
A few days before his death, Dr. F. B. Meyer wrote a very dear friend these words:
"I have just heard, to my great surprise, that I have but a few days to live. It may
be that before this reaches you, I shall have entered the palace. Don't trouble to write.
We shall meet in the morning."
Quoted in Consolation, by Mrs. C. Cowman, p. 70.
I read that when a terrible plague came to ancient Athens, people there committed every
horrible crime and engaged in every lustful pleasure they could because they believed that
life was short and they would never have to pay any penalty. In one of the world's most
famous poems, the Latin poet Catullus wrote, "Let us live and let us love, and let us
value the tales of austere old men at a single halfpenny. Suns can set and then return
again, but for us, when once our brief light sets, there is but one perpetual night
through which we must sleep."
Morning Glory, January 29, 1994.
Alexander the Great, seeing Diogenes looking attentively at a parcel of human bones,
asked the philosopher what he was looking for. Diogenes' reply: "That which I cannot
find--the difference between your father's bones and those of his slaves."
"Here lies Jamie Smith, wife of Thomas Smith, marble cutter. This monument was
erected by her husband as a tribute to her memory and a specimen of his work. Monuments of
the same style 350 dollars."
from Springdale, Ohio.
I was driving with my children to my wife's funeral where I was to preach the sermon.
As we came into one small town there strode down in front of us a truck that came to stop
before a red light. It was the biggest truck I ever saw in my life, and the sun was
shining on it at just the right angle that took its shadow and spread it across the snow
on the field beside it. As the shadow covered that field, I said, "Look children at
that truck, and look at its shadow. If you had to be run over, which would you rather be
run over by? Would you rather be run over by the truck or by the shadow?" My youngest
child said, "The shadow couldn't hurt anybody." "That's right," I
continued, "and death is a truck, but the shadow is all that ever touches the
Christian. The truck ran over the Lord Jesus. Only the shadow is gone over mother."
Donald Grey Barnhouse.
Peter Kreeft tells us that in the Latin rite for the burial of an Austrian emperor, the
people carry the corpse to the door of the great monastic church. They strike the door and
say: "Open." The abbot inside says: "Who is there." "Emperor
Karl, the king of..." The response from inside: "We know of no such person
here." So the people strike the door again. "Who is there?" asks the abbot.
"Emperor Karl." "We know of no such person here." So they strike a
third time. "Who is there?" asks the abbot again. "Karl," say the
people. And the door is opened.
One World, May, 1982.
"You don't go look at where it happened," said Scott Goodyear, who starts
33rd [speaking of race-car drivers who have been killed in crashes at the Indianapolis
500]. "You don't watch the films of it on television. You don't deal with it. You
pretend it never happened." The Speedway operation itself encourages this approach.
As soon as the track closes the day of an accident, a crew heads out to paint over the
spot where the car hit the wall. Through the years, a driver has never been pronounced
dead at the race track. A trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Racing Museum, located
inside the 2.5-mile oval, has no memorial to the 40 drivers who have lost their lives
here. Nowhere is there even a mention.
Sarah Winchester's husband had acquired a fortune by manufacturing and selling rifles.
After he died of influenza in 1918, she moved to San Jose, California. Because of her
grief and her long time interest in spiritism, Sarah sought out a medium to contact her
dead husband. The medium told her, "As long as you keep building your home, you will
never face death."
Sarah believed the spiritist, so she bought an unfinished 17-room mansion and started
to expand it. The project continued until she died at the age of 85. It cost 5 million
dollars at a time when workmen earned 50 cents a day. The mansion had 150 rooms, 13
bathrooms, 2,000 doors, 47 fireplaces, and 10,000 windows. And Mrs. Winchester left enough
materials so that they could have continued building for another 80 years.
Today that house stands as more than a tourist attraction. It is a silent witness to
the dread of death that holds millions of people in bondage (Heb. 2:15).
Our Daily Bread, April 2, 1994.
Thursday, December 21, 1899, after cutting short a Kansas City crusade and returning
home in ill health, D. L. Moody told his family, "I'm not discouraged. I want to live
as long as I am useful, but when my work is done I want to be up and off." The next
day Moody awakened after a restless night. In careful, measured words he said, "Earth
recedes, Heaven opens before me!" His son, Will, concluded his father was dreaming.
"No, this is no dream, Will. It is beautiful. It is like a trance. If this is death,
it is sweet. There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go."
December, 1993, p. 70.
In one of his books, A.M. Hunter, the New Testament scholar, relates the story of a
dying man who asked his Christian doctor to tell him something about the place to which he
was going. As the doctor fumbled for a reply, he heard a scratching at the door, and he
had his answer. "Do you hear that?" he asked his patient. "It's my dog. I
left him downstairs, but he has grown impatient, and has come up and hears my voice. He
has no notion what is inside this door, but he knows that I am here. Isn't it the same
with you? You don't know what lies beyond the Door, but you know that your Master is
Christian Theology in Plain Language, p. 208.
It is a poor thing to fear that which is inevitable.
Tertullian, third-century church
father, speaking about death.
The bitter news of Dawson Trotman's drowning swept like cold wind across Schroon Lake
to the shoreline. Eyewitnesses tell of the profound anxiety, the tears, the helpless
disbelief in the faces of those who now looked out across the deep blue water. Everyone's
face except one -- Lila Trotman, Dawson's widow. As she suddenly walked upon the scene a
close friend shouted, "Oh, Lila ... He's gone. Dawson's gone!" To that she
replied in calm assurance the words of Psalm 115:3:
But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
All of the anguish, the sudden loneliness that normally consumes and cripples those who
survive did not invade that woman's heart. Instead, she leaned hard upon her sovereign
Lord, who had once again done what He pleased.
Charles R. Swindoll, Starting Over, Multnomah Press, 1977,
Around 125 A.D., a Greek by the name of Aristeides wrote to one of his friends, trying
to explain the extraordinary success of the new religion, Christianity. In his letter he
said, "If any righteous man among the Christians passes from this world, they rejoice
and offer thanks to God, and they accompany his body with songs and thanksgiving as if he
were setting out from one place to another nearby."
Today in the Word, April 10, 1993.
Before his death in 1981, American writer William Saroyan telephoned in to the
Associated Press this final, very Saroyan-like observation: "Everybody has got to
die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?"
Today in the Word, April 11, 1993.
Edith Rockefeller McCormick, the daughter of John D. Rockefeller, maintained a large
household staff. She applied one rule to every servant without exception: They were not
permitted to speak to her. The rule was broken only once, when word arrived at the
family's country retreat that their young son had died of scarlet fever. The McCormicks
were hosting a dinner party, but following a discussion in the servants' quarters it was
decided that Mrs. McCormick needed to know right away. When the tragic news was whispered
to her, she merely nodded her head and the party continued without interruption.
the Word, September 29, 1992.
When you have had a loved one go to be with the Lord, do not feel like you're the only
person who has had this experience. There is an Eastern legend about a Hindu woman whose
only child had died. She went to a prophet to ask for her child back. The prophet told her
to go and obtain a handful of rice from a house into which death had not come. If she
could obtain the rice in this way, he promised to give her the child back. From door to
door she asked the question, "Are you all here around the table -- father, mother,
children -- none missing?" But always the answer came back that there were empty
chairs in each house. As she continued on, her grief and sorrow softened as she found that
death had visited all families. Yes, death is universal; our painful experience is not the
only one of its kind. Because God is faithful, because Jesus Christ is alive, so is your
loved one and mine.
Hugh Salisbury, Through Sorrow Into Joy, p. 58.
John Bacon, once a famous sculptor, left this inscription on his tomb in Westminster
Abbey: "What I was as an artist seemed of some importance to me while I lived; but
what I was as a believer in Jesus Christ is the only thing of importance to me now."
Howard Hughes: Worth 2.5 billion dollars at his death, he was the richest man in the
United States. He owned a private fleet of jets, hotels and casinos. When asked to claim
his body, his nearest relative, a distant cousin, exclaimed, "Is this Mr.
Hughes?" He had spent the last 15 years of his life a drug addict, too weak in the
end to even administer the shots to himself. His 6'4" frame had shrunk to 6'1"
and he weighed only 90 lbs. Not a single acquaintance or relative mourned his death. The
only honor he received was a moment of silence in his Las Vegas casinos. Time magazine put
it this way: "Howard Hughes' death was commemorated in Las Vegas by a minute of
silence. Casinos fell silent. Housewives stood uncomfortable clutching their paper cups
full of coins at the slot machines, the blackjack games paused, and at the crap tables the
stickmen cradled the dice in the crook of their wooden wands. Then a pit boss looked at
his watch, leaned forward and whispered, "O.K., roll the dice. He's had his
Time, December 13, 1976.
Napoleon Bonaparte: Responsible for the death of 500,000 French men in battle,
approximately 1/6 of the population. Was exiled by the British for the last 6 years of his
life on the Island of St. Helena. His wife Marie Louise never wrote him and married
another man while he was still living. He never heard from his son again. he was confined
to the house and grounds, needing the escort of a British soldier whenever he ventured
anywhere on the island. The tombstone on his grave read simply, "here lies."
Adolph Hitler: Lived the last 4 months of his life in Berlin. It is believed that he
went prematurely senile or insane. On April 29 he married Eva Braum and dictated his
political testament in defense of his actions. On April 30 he said farewell to a few
remaining military men, retired to his suite and shot himself while his wife took poison.
Their bodies were burned in accordance with their instructions.
God buries His workmen, but not His work.
Before British actor Robert Morley died, he asked that his credit cards be buried with
him. Since his funeral, the London Times's letters pages have been filled with the
thoughts of readers pondering their own deaths and their perpetual needs. -Wrote
Evans of Chester: "In the unfortunate event of the miscarriage of justice and several
thousand years ensuing before my sentence is quashed, I will take a fire
-Heather Tanner of Woodbridge specified a good map. "I have immense trouble finding
my way in this life," she said, "so am extremely worried about the next."
-A pair of earplugs would accompany Sir David Wilcocks of Cambridge "in case the
heavenly choirs, singing everlastingly, are not in tune."
-Maurice Godbold of Hindhead would take a crowbar, "in case the affair proved
premature." Even in the hereafter, there will always be an England.
& World Report, June 22, 1992, p. 26.
The last days of British statesman and colonial leader Cecil Rhodes were marked by
grave disappointment. He died from heart disease at a time when he was beset by personal
scandals and discredited by unwise political decisions. Lewis Mitchel, who was at Rhodes's
bedside in his cottage near Cape Town, South Africa heard the dying man murmur, "So
little done, so much to do." Yet there's more than this to the story of Cecil Rhodes.
He migrated to South Africa from Britain for health reasons. It was there that Rhodes made
a vast fortune in gold and diamond mining. Even though he died feeling he had much more to
do, he has left a lasting legacy because he used part of his fortune to endow the famous
Rhodes scholarship program.
Today in the Word, July 28, 1992.
A young soldier, while dying very happily, broke out in singing the following stanza:
"Great Jehovah, we adore thee, God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit, joined in
glory on the same eternal throne: Endless praised to Jehovah, three in one." The
chaplain then asked if he had any message to send his friends. "Yes," said he.
"Tell my father that I have tried to eat my meals with thanksgiving." "Tell
him that Christ is now all my hope, all my trust, and that he is precious to my
soul." "Tell him that I am not afraid to die--all is calm" "Tell him
that I believe Christ will take me to himself, and to my dear sister who is in
heaven." The voice of the dying boy faltered in the intervals between these precious
sentences. When the hymn commencing, "Nearer, my God to thee," was read to him,
at the end of each stanza he exclaimed, with striking energy, "Oh Lord Jesus, thou
are coming nearer to me." Also at the end of each stanza of the hymn (which was also
read to him) commencing, "Just as I am--without one plea, But that thy blood was shed
for me, And that thou bid'st me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come," he exclaimed,
"I Come! O Lamb of God, I Come!" Speaking again of his friends, he said,
"Tell my father that I died happy." His last words were, "Father, I'm
coming to thee!" Then the Christian soldier sweetly and calmly "fell asleep in
Anonymous Confederate soldier--1861-65/died in battle in the War Between the
I am not come hither to deny my Lord and Master.
Anne Askew--July 16, 1545--burned at
the stake after torture on the rack, at the age of 25.
Margaret Wilson, a Scottish girl of eighteen, was tied to a stake where the tide was
due to come in. The water covered her while she was engaged in prayer; but before life was
gone, they pulled her up till she recovered the power of speech, when she was asked by
Major Windram, who commanded, if she would pray for the king. She replied that "She
wished the salvation of all men, and the damnation of none." "Dear
Margaret," said one of the by-standers, deeply affected, "say God save the
king." She answered with great steadiness, "God save him, if he will, for it is
his salvation I desire." "Sir, they cried to the major, "she has said it;
she has said it!" The major, approaching her on hearing this, offered her the
abjuration oath, charging her instantly to swear it, otherwise to return to the water. The
poor young woman...firmly replied, "I will not; I am one of Christ's children!
go." Upon which she was again thrust into the water, and drowned.
Wilson--Early 1680's--drowned for faithfulness to the Reformation.
Let me pass over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.
"Stonewall" Jackson--wounded by his own men, he died shortly after.
Neil Simon, who wrote The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park, was asked on the Dick
Cavett Show whether making a lot of money concerned him. The studio went dead silent when
Simon answered, "No...what does concern me is the fear of dying."
Good News is For Sharing, p. 31.
According to an old fable, a man made an unusual agreement with Death. He told the Grim
Reaper that he would willingly accompany him when it came time to die, but only on one
condition--that Death would send a messenger well in advance to warn him. Weeks winged
away into months, and months into years. Then one bitter winter evening, as the man sat
thinking about all his possessions, Death suddenly entered the room and tapped him on the
shoulder. Startled, the man cried out, "You're here so soon and without warning! I
thought we had an agreement." Death replied, "I've more than kept my part. I've
sent you many messengers. Look in the mirror and you'll see some of them." As the man
complied, Death whispered, "Notice your hair! Once it was full and black, now it is
thin and white. Look at the way you cock your head to listen to me because you can't hear
very well. Observe how close to the mirror you must stand to see yourself clearly. Yes,
I've sent many messengers through the years. I'm sorry you're not ready, but the time has
come to leave."
Daily Bread, February 29, 1991.
When Corrie Ten Boom of The Hiding Place fame was a little girl in Holland, her first
realization of death came after a visit to the home of a neighbor who had died. It
impressed her that some day her parents would also die. Corrie's father comforted her with
words of wisdom. "Corrie, when you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your
ticket?" "Why, just before we get on the train," she replied.
"Exactly," her father said, "and our wise Father in heaven knows when we're
going to need things too. Don't run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that
some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you
need--just in time."
Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p. 30.
Many accidental deaths result from taking risks. That's the conclusion of an
organization in Canada that is seeking to decrease accidents between cars and trains.
Roger Cyr, national director of Operation Lifesaver, puts most of the blame for fatalities
on drivers who are risk-takers. "Studies have shown that when people hear a train
whistle their minds tell them to accelerate their speed," says Cyr. About 43 percent
of the accidents occur at crossings equipped with flashing lights and bells or gates. Cyr
also said that many drivers "even have the audacity to drive around or under
gates." They take the risk, thinking they can beat the train and somehow miss the
collision--but with tragic consequences!
Daily Bread, April 6, 1991.
When John Owen, the great Puritan, lay on his deathbed his secretary wrote (in his
name) to a friend, "I am still in the land of the living." "Stop,"
said Owen. "Change that and say, I am yet in the land of the dying, but I hope soon
to be in the land of the living."
John M. Drescher.
We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Adam, the first great benefactor of the human race:
he brought death into the world.
The bodies of those that made such a noise and tumult when alive, when dead, lie as
quietly among the graves of their neighbors as any others.
Our civilization is founded on the shambles, and every individual existence goes out in
a lonely spasm of helpless agony.
In the 18th century, Archibald Boyle was the leading member of an association of wild
and wicked men known as "The Hell Club" in Glasgow, Scotland. After one night of
carousing at the Club's notorious annual meeting, Boyle deemed he was riding home on his
black horse. In the darkness, someone seized the reins, shouting, "You must go with
me!" As Boyle desperately tried to force the reins from the hands of the unknown
guide, the horse reared. Boyle fell down, down, down with increasing speed. "Where
are you taking me?" The cold voice replied, "To hell!" The echoes of the
groans and yells of frantic revelry assaulted their ears. At the entrance to hell, Boyle
saw the inmates chasing the same pleasures they had pursued in life. There was a lady he'd
known playing her favorite vulgar game. Boyle relaxed, thinking hell must be a pleasurable
place after all. When he asked her to rest a moment and show him through the pleasures of
hell, she shrieked. "There is no rest in hell!" She unclasped the vest of her
robe and displayed a coil of living snakes writhing about her midsection. Others revealed
different forms of pain in their hearts. "Take me from this place!" Boyle
demanded. "By the living God whose name I have so often outraged, I beg you, let me
go!" His guide replied, "Go then--but in a year and a day we meet to part no
At this, Boyle awoke, feeling that these last words were as letters of fire
burned into his heart. Despite a resolution never to attend the Hell Club again, he soon
was drawn back. He found no comfort there. He grew haggard and gray under the weight of
his conscience and fear of the future. He dreaded attending the Club's annual meeting, but
his companions forced him to attend. Every nerve of his body writhed in agony at the first
sentence of the president's opening address: "Gentlemen, this is leap year; therefore
it is a year and a day since our last annual meeting." After the meeting, he mounted
his house to ride home. Next morning, his horse was found grazing quietly by the roadside.
A few yards away lay the corpse of Archibald Boyle. The strange guide had claimed him at
the appointed time.
Paul Lee Tan.
The story is told of a nobleman who had a lovely floral garden. The gardener who tended
it took great pains to make the estate a veritable paradise. One morning he went into the
garden to inspect his favorite flowers. To his dismay he discovered that one of his choice
beauties had been cut from its stem. Soon he saw that the most magnificent flowers from
each bed were missing. Filled with anxiety and anger, he hurried to his fellow employees
and demanded, "Who stole my treasures?" One of his helpers replied, "The
nobleman came into his garden this morning, picked those flowers himself, and took them
into his house. I guess he wanted to enjoy their beauty." The gardener then realized
that he had no reason to be concerned because it was perfectly right for his master to
pick some of his own prize blossoms.
On a bitterly cold January day several years ago, five-year-old Jimmy Tonglewicz chased
a sled onto the glazed ice of Lake Michigan. In a blink of the eye he disappeared beneath
the ice. The last words his dad heard were: "Save me, Dad!" Jimmy's
panic-stricken father plunged into the freezing water, but the cold quickly rendered him
helpless and he left the scene in an ambulance. For over twenty minutes Jimmy remained
submerged beneath the icy waters. When his limp, lifeless body was pulled from the lake by
divers, he had no pulse. But he had a lot going for him--especially the cold water!
Scientists call what happened the "mammalian diving reflex." The shock of the
cold water allowed Jimmy to live without breathing an abnormally long time. Slowly he came
around, and today Jimmy lives a normal life.
Today in the Word, May, 1990, MBI, p. 9.
The courage of Civil War leader Stonewall Jackson in the midst of conflict can be a
lesson for the believer. Historian Mark Brinsley wrote: A battlefield is a deadly place,
even for generals; and it would be naive to suppose Jackson never felt the animal fear of
all beings exposed to wounds and death. But invariably he displayed extraordinary calm
under fire, a calm too deep and masterful to be mere pretense. His apparent obliviousness
to danger attracted notice, and after the first Manassas battle someone asked him how he
managed it. "My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in
bed." Jackson explained, "God (knows the) time for my death. I do not concern
myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter where it may overtake me." He
added pointedly, 'That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally
All ends with the cancellation of forces and comes to nothing; and our universe thus
ends in one vast, silent, unappreciated joke.
Stephen Leacock, Canadian humorist, writer,
Victoria Principal, a star of the Dallas, television program was nearly killed in an
automobile accident when 19 year old. Upon recovering she said she had a new sense of her
mortality, and rather than turning her thoughts to eternity, she abandoned herself to
hedonistic living for the next two to three years. She didn't want to die having missed
any of life's experiences.
When I moved to the U.S. I was impressed with the number of total strangers who visited
my home to wish me well...they all sold insurance! One day my visitor was talking about
the necessity to be prudent in the preparation for all possibilities. "If something
should happen to you, Mr. Briscoe--" he started to say, but I interrupted with,
"Please don't say that. It upsets me." He was a little startled, but tried
again, "But with all due respects, sir, we must be ready if something should happen
to us." "Don't say that," I insisted. He looked totally bewildered and
said, "I don't understand what I said to upset you." "Then I'll tell
you," I replied. "It upsets me that you talk about (Life's) only certainty as if
it's a possibility. Death isn't a possibility, it's a certainty. You don't say
"if," you say "When," whenever death is the subject."
Briscoe, Spirit Life.
George McDonald wrote to his sorrowing wife when their daughter died. He began by
telling her that she wouldn't find consolation in lovely but empty sentiments that he
called "pleasant fancies of a half-held creed." He then pointed out that the
Great Shepherd had gone before and prepared the way for their daughter. McDonald reminded
her that they were both moving along day by day toward that same destination. In closing,
he said, "We seek not death, but still we climb the stairs where death is one wide
landing to the rooms above."
A Christian railroad engineer was speaking to a group of fellow workers about heaven.
He said, "I can't begin to tell you what the Lord Jesus means to me. In Him I have a
hope that is very precious. Let me explain. Many years ago as each night I neared the end
of my run, I would always let out a long blast with the whistle just as I'd come around
the last curve. Then I'd look up at the familiar little cottage on top of the hill. My
mother and father would be standing in the doorway waving to me. After I had passed,
they'd go back inside and say, 'Thank God, Benny is home safe again tonight.' Well, they
are gone now, and no one is there to welcome me. But someday when I have finished my
'earthly run' and I draw near to heaven's gate, I believe I'll see my precious mother and
dad waiting there for me. And the one will turn to the other and say, 'Thank God, Benny is
home safe at last.'"
In one of his lighter moments, Benjamin Franklin penned his own epitaph. He didn't
profess to be a born-again Christian, but it seems that he must have been influenced by
Paul's teaching of the resurrection of the body. Here's what he wrote: The Body of B.
Franklin, Printer: Like the Cover of an old Book Its contents torn out, And stript of its
Lettering and Guilding, Lies here, Food for Worms, But the Work shall not be wholy lost:
For it will, as he believ'd, Appear once more In a new & more perfect Edition,
Corrected and amended by the Author.
The hymn writer Fanny Crosby gave us more than 6,000 gospel songs. Although blinded by
an illness at the age of 6 weeks, she never became bitter. One time a preacher
sympathetically remarked, "I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give
you sight when He showered so many other gifts upon you." She replied quickly,
"Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have
been that I should be born blind?" "Why?" asked the surprised clergyman.
"Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will
be that of my Savior!" One of Miss Crosby's hymns was so personal that for years she
kept it to herself.
Kenneth Osbeck, author of several books on hymnology, says its
revelation to the public came about this way: "One day at the Bible conference in
Northfield, Massachusetts, Miss Crosby was asked by D.L. Moody to give a personal
testimony. At first she hesitated, then quietly rose and said, 'There is one hymn I have
written which has never been published. I call it my soul's poem. Sometimes when I am
troubled, I repeat it to myself, for it brings comfort to my heart.' She then recited
while many wept, 'Someday the silver cord will break, and I no more as now shall sing; but
oh, the joy when I shall wake within the palace of the King! And I shall see Him face to
face, and tell the story--saved by grace!'" At the age of 95 Fanny Crosby passed into
glory and saw the face of Jesus.
In his excellent little book When Loved Ones Are Taken in Death, Lehman Strauss
made some interesting comments about the Greek word translated "departure." He
wrote, "It is used metaphorically in a nautical way as when a vessel pulls up anchor
to loose from its moorings and set sail, or in a military way as when an army breaks
encampment to move on. In the ancient Greek world this term was used also for freeing
someone from chains and for the severing of a piece of goods from the loom. This is what
death is as described in the Bible. Here, we are anchored to the hardships and heartaches
of this life. In death, the gangway is raised, the anchor is weighed, and we set sail for
the golden shore. In death, we break camp here to start for heaven."
Lehman Strauss, When Loved Ones Are Taken in
Statistics and Stuff
John Climacus, a seventh-century ascetic who wrote "Ladder of Divine
Christians to use the reality of earth to their benefit: "You cannot pass a day
devoutly unless you think of it as your last," he wrote. He called the thought of
death the "most essential of all works" and a gift from God. "The man who
lives daily with the thought of death is to be admired, and the man who gives himself to
it by the hour is surely a saint." "A man who has heard himself sentenced to
death will not worry about the way theatres are run."
Gary Thomas, in Christian Times, October
3, 1994, p. 26.
Late faith is unavailing. There's little use accepting arks once the rain begins to
fall. Death is such an instant storm that by the time you reach for an umbrella, you
already need your water wings.
Calvin Miller, The Valiant Papers, p. 20.
Every hour 5417 people die.
A bank in Binghamton, New York, had some flowers sent to a competitor who had recently
moved into a new building. There was a mix up at the flower shop, and the card sent with
the arrangement read, "With our deepest sympathy." The florist, who was greatly
embarrassed, apologized. But he was even more embarrassed when he realized that the card
intended for the bank was attached to a floral arrangement sent to a funeral home in honor
of a deceased person. That card read, "Congratulations on you new location!"
Daily Bread, May 25, 1992.
A young business owner was opening a new branch office, and a friend decided to send a
floral arrangement for the grand opening. When the friend arrived at the opening, he was
appalled to find that his wreath bore the inscription: "Rest in peace." Angry,
he complained to the florist. After apologizing, the florist said, "Look at it this
way -- somewhere a man was buried under a wreath today that said, 'Good luck in your new
Bits & Pieces, June 23, 1994, p. 4.
An evangelist asked all who wanted to go to heaven to raise their hands. Everyone in
the audience did so, except one elderly man sitting near the front of the
preacher pointed his finger at him and said, 'Sir, do you mean to tell us that you don't
want to go to heaven?' 'Sure I want to go, but the way you put the question, I figured you
were getting up a busload for tonight!'
"It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it
I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numbed too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimmed with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.
My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk;
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall--the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.
My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perished thing,
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.
Christina G. Rossetti.