This last week our family celebrated my Dad’s homegoing. I call it that because, while his death was a difficult process, he left this earth with hope of something better ahead.
Life and death are realities. And the transition from one to the next is one of the most painful parts of the human condition. I am reminded, as we read the Scriptures that God created us to experience life. But death came because of sin.
Yet, for the believer in Christ, death is not an end. It is another step of faith that we take. It is part of our path to the Savior’s presence. But even Christians struggle with death. Some seem to walk into it with real serenity. Some struggle with the idea of it until the very end.
What makes the difference?
1. You are sure of your own faith.
I don’t mean don’t ever go through seasons of questions. But make sure all your questions are settled in Christ. Do you believe that God sees our need? Do you trust that He sent a Savior? Do you know that Jesus’ sacrifice was enough to provide true forgiveness? When all is said and done and you ask yourself, “Why would God let me into His presence?”, your answer must be “because of Jesus!”
Anything else will breed insecurity in your life. And death will be accompanied by doubts and questions. I’m so glad that my Dad never trusted his own goodness. He trusted in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus and the power of His resurrection.
2. You’ve left behind a lasting legacy.
You won’t be ready to die unless you know you’ve left something of value behind. Around my Dad’s casket were 6 of his grandsons. The oldest says to another, “would you pray?” And we stood and watched 6 young men thank God for their grandpa. They acknowledged the Creator and the man He gave to lead them.
In watching that, I saw that my Dad left behind the greatest thing he could, a family who knows the Savior. A lot of Dad leave a lot of things. My Dad left some “stuff” too. But nothing compares to the gift of faith! This is something that will be passed from generation to generation. And only in heaven, will Dad see the fullness of all he left behind.
3. You have nothing left to do.
Written in my Dad’s bible was the quote from Jim Elliot, a martyred missionary. He said, “When your time comes to die, make sure that all you have left to do is die.”
This means, make sure your job is done when you’re done. Don’t leave conversations left in your heart or head. Don’t leave people unloved. Don’t leave work to be done. Finish it. After my heart surgery last year my mind was filled with the thought, “God must not be done with me.” I had more to do. Dad was done. All he had to do was to go home. If you’re here, you’re not done. Are you doing it? If you live each day like that, on your last you will know there is only one thing to do — to head home to your Savior.
These things won’t just make your departure easier for you, but it will make it easier for your family. You will leave them with a hope they can grab hold of for themselves. And if they choose to follow your example, the reunion you experience one day will be filled with great joy. And their lives will count in the meantime.