My mother died two weeks ago today. She was 83 years old and lived with health problems and pain for most of the last decade. Friends offer comforting words, telling me that perhaps it was a blessing for her to pass on to a better place. I agree with that and yet, any death in the immediate family is a kick in the gut. Life is changed forever for those left behind. Things will never be the same again. She was the last of that generation in my family. All of my aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas, and now my mother and father are gone. Today I’m going to the local funeral home to pick out a plot for myself. Having buried two parents, I want to make it as easy as possible when my own children are faced with what I’ve just gone through. To many people this sounds morose, but death — much like cancer — brings us face to face with our own mortality. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing, and I’m not just talking about making funeral plans. Eternity is a long time compared to this short life. We need to be ready for it. God desperately wants us to be ready for it. A day will come when we stand before His throne. Will He acknowledge me as someone ready to enter His Kingdom? Someone who has known and loved Him, a true child of God, ready to obey His will? (Matthew 7:21-23)
Losing a loved one inevitably ushers in a time of reflection, and I don’t want to waste that moment. Scripture implores us to reflect on what is most important:
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.”
2 Corinthians 13:5
Be ready because eventually, being ready to meet God face to face is the only thing that will matter.
Last night a friend and I were discussing how the second half of life seems so much more difficult than the first. How can we joyfully march toward the finish line when our path is littered with the inevitable loss of friends and family, physical decline, or even feebleness? Firstly, we remind ourselves that God has blessed us with many good things to enjoy along the way: grandchildren, resources and opportunities to love and serve others, wisdom, maturity, time to travel and play — but more importantly, we fix our eyes on our eternal hope, the prize awaiting us at the end of the journey. Today I’m one day closer to being with my Jesus. Hallelujah! I think by the time I’ve run my last lap around the track, I will be ready and grateful that I have no further to run except into His arms.