Jim and I lost a good friend, and a good friend of our ministry, this weekend. It wasn’t unexpected except for the fact we never want to expect death will happen to someone we love.
We know this friend is in heaven, but he left his sweet family behind. There were a lot of God-moments as he knew his life on earth was coming to an end. Those moments are sweet blessings for the family as they grieve. But grief always seems to weigh more in our hearts than our blessings.
Most of us have many more blessings in this life than we have grief. But, it seems like Satan knows how to press down and tip the scale when we endure times of grieving. Our time is valuable and, when it comes to our time on earth, “enough” is usually defined as “more.”
An observation from this preacher’s wife
I’ve led an unusual life because I married a minister. I’ve often thought that someday I will write a book about living a life of faith from the perspective of a preacher’s wife. I probably should wait and write it when I’m older. As one of my favorite education ministers once said, “You are a few funerals short of that being a good idea.” I would have to adopt the statement used at the beginning of the television show Dragnet: “The names have been changed to protect the innocent.”
One of the unique privileges of being married to the ministry is closely watching people walk their loved ones home to heaven and hearing the stories of their journeys. I’ve made an observation that I want to share with all of you today.
When it comes to the last moments of life, those moments are usually easier for the person who is dying than the people who are left behind. “Dying grace” is real, and Christians should expect to have that when their time comes.
Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). David wrote, “Even though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
Christians are given dying grace but usually not until they need it. Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians when he was under house arrest, waiting for Rome to determine his sentence. He knew his life could end any time, and he understood that “to die is gain.”
Do you expect to feel that same way too?
After years of ministry, I can say, “Christians will feel that way.” Grief belongs to those who are left behind, not to those who are entering heaven.
What does scripture mean when it says “our days are numbered”?
I have to be honest: I have never understood the phrase “Our days are numbered by God.”
Some people taught me not to worry about things because I will live as long as the Lord wants me to live. On the other hand, I know that if I spend my days eating bacon-wrapped sausages and chocolate cheesecake, I should expect to die before “my time.”
The phrase comes from the book of Job, chapter 14. Job said, “Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass, look away from him and leave him alone” (Job 14:5–6).
The best understanding that I have of the phrase “our days are numbered” is this: God is God. He is all-knowing. God knows the exact number of days you will live on earth. Can you and I shorten or lengthen the time that God would have chosen for us to live on earth? It would seem so. He created us with free will and honors our freedom to choose. Our choices impact the length of our lives. God knows how long our lives will continue, but his perfect plan might have been a different number.
God already knows which day will be our last. Why does that matter?
Because God wants to help us live every one of those days for his good purpose so that we can maximize our lives on earth and invest in our lives eternal.
Is your time spent or invested?
One of my favorite lessons from the book Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby is the idea that when we made Jesus our Savior and Lord, we gave him permission to order our lives according to his good purpose. We are grateful to accept Jesus as our Savior, but making him our Lord is a lifelong effort.
It’s hard to accept some of what the Lord wants to do in our lives. So, question one is this: When you made Jesus your Savior, did you accept the fact you needed to make him your Lord as well?
It is much easier to yield to the Lord’s will when you understand that our days are numbered by God. He knows what our priorities and choices should be for today, tomorrow, and every day that follows. When we allow Jesus to be Lord, we give him permission to interrupt our plans with his. We want the plan Jesus has made because it invests our time eternally, as well as orders it on earth.
Time and money have something in common. We can spend what we have or we can invest it. The key is placing our time in God’s hands rather than allowing it to simply get used up.
The point of this life is living it with Jesus as our Savior and our Lord. God knows the exact number of hairs on your head and the exact number of days left in your life. He knows the best things for you to do, and that is what the Holy Spirit will lead you to do each day.
When your last day rolls around, you will have dying grace, strengthened by the knowledge that you chose Jesus to be your Savior and chose to live Spirit-led with Jesus as your Lord.
Todd Beamer had dying grace
Last week’s blog post mentioned Todd Beamer, the young man who led in the takedown of Flight 93 on September 11, 2001.
Lisa Beamer, his wife, was on the cell phone with her husband and told him what was happening. They prayed together before he and others stood up to go find the terrorists. Lisa is often asked how her husband was able to remain calm during the crisis.
In one interview, Lisa said, “I answered those questions the only way that rang true to me: Because Todd loved his life, but he knew that his life was much more than his 32 years on this earth. His soul was secure even when his body wasn’t because Jesus was his Savior.”
When Lisa was asked how she kept from falling apart after the crash, she said, “I’m sure of God’s love and provision for Todd, and I’m sure of God’s love and provision for me and my children.”
Our time is in God’s hand
God has numbered our days. I don’t think Scripture supports the idea that it doesn’t matter what choices we make in life because “our days are numbered.” Instead, Scripture teaches us that our choices can impact our time on earth and heaven. God wants to help us invest our time in eternal ways. That’s why he gave every Christian his Holy Spirit as an ever-present guide.
Our days are numbered and our time is in God’s hand, his righteous right hand. His hand created the world. His hand holds his children and will never let them go. His hand will signal to Jesus that it is time to return. Our time is measured and precious. We should choose to live according to God’s perfect design.
If Jesus is your Savior, be deeply grateful, then joyfully submit to him as your Lord.
His plan is perfection for every day of your life that remains.
Scripture reveals the truth that dying grace proves: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Have a blessed and Spirit-led day.