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Saturday, 7 February 2009

Death - and life.

I haven't watched Star Trek for many years but, if my memory serves me well, the opening sequence contained a spoken reference to space as "the final frontier". The starship Enterprise was, of course, exploring this final frontier.

During this past week, however, I have been reminded afresh of what is truly the final frontier for mankind - that experience that we refer to as death. On Tuesday, I attended the funeral service for a former friend whose wife had gone to bed, leaving him watching a television programme. When she awoke, a few hours later to find the bed beside her still empty, she went downstairs. She saw her husband, still seated in front of the television set - but he was dead. Just 62 years of age, Jim had suffered a fatal heart attack.

On Thursday, I was speaking by telephone with friends who live if France, working as missionaries in the city of Nantes. They told me of a young girl who had been involved with them in a summer mission literature team. She had been involved in a car accident a week ago, today, and was in a coma. Yesterday, I received an e-mail informing me that she had died. Laura was just 20 years of age.

These are two of the problems with death. It doesn't always make an appointment in advance; and it is no respecter of age. However, what makes both of these deaths bearable is the Christian commitment shared by both Jim and Laura. You see, for the genuine believer in the Lord, Jesus Christ death, whenever it might come, is not the end. As I was praying for both families this morning, I came up with the thought that the dark door of physical death leads into the everlasting light of God's nearer presence. But, of course, that is only true, in my experience, for the committed Christian - the one who has yielded his/her life to the Christ, and sought to follow Him for as long as they have breath.

There is one more major problem with death! After it has claimed us, there is nothing that we can do to change our status. In the Letter to the Hebrew Christians, the anonymous writer states that "... it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment," (9:27). Luke, in ch.16 of his account of the Gospel, records Jesus' parable (some would say story!) about the beggar named Lazarus, and the rich man who is traditionally named Dives (from the Latin word for "rich"). At the GLO Mini Bible School, last week, we were reminded, from that story, that the way in which we live our lives here affects where we spend eternity.

As far as I am concerned, there is only one way in which to live a life that will ensure that we might face physical death with a steady eye. That's to live as Jim and Laura did - in the service of the Lord Jesus, seeking to do all things in a way that brings glory to Him.

The big question is, "Where will you spend eternity?" or, in other words, "Where will you be when you have crossed that final frontier?" I trust that you will be with Jim, and Laura, and countless others (see Rev.7:9ff) in the Presence of the King of kings, and Lord of lords, throughout the timelessness that is eternity.

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