The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"The Best Way To Die"
I will conduct a funeral service later this week for a dear woman who passed away in her sleep on Friday (passed upward, actually!). Mrs. Johnson attended services we conduct in a local retirement community. She knew the Lord Jesus Christ, and we will rejoice in her homegoing amid the sorrow of her passing.
I conducted a memorial service yesterday for Sheriff's Deputy Bill Smith, who died last Sunday in heavy surf while saving the life of a young man who was drowning. The entire community has sorrowed for a week, including our family. Bill was a dear friend and colleague of our son Noah, who beautifully eulogized Bill during our service yesterday. Like Mrs. Johnson, Bill was also a believer who lived his life in humble and committed service to God and people.
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" (Psalm 116:15).
Mrs. Johnson and Bill died in very different ways. Mrs. Johnson begin her journey through the valley of the shadow of death while asleep. This was God's will for her, and we rejoice in her peaceful passage. Dying in her sleep was best for Mrs. Johnson. Bill, conversely, left the world amid violent and raging waves, giving his life for others. This was God's will for him, and this was best for Bill. As Noah said of his friend, "It was always going to be this way for Bill. It's who he was." Thus, Mrs. Johnson and Bill both went home in accordance with the Lord's purpose for their farewell. They died in the best way possible for each of them.
In broader terms, however, the thought occurs to me that Bill's passing actually involved the optimum way any human being can die. Meaning no disrespect at all to Mrs. Johnson, who passed away under more normal circumstances and in accordance with God' will, Bill's death so vividly reflects the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for all that preparing the message for his service yesterday changed my mind and heart about the best way to die. Certainly, God has a will for each of us, and in the personal sense, whatever that may be is best for us. If we could choose how to die, however, sacrificing ourselves for someone else would be our best option.
Every martyr of church history would tell us this. One by one by one, they would all affirm that sacrificing themselves for God and others constituted the best moment of their earthly lives. They would not change the circumstances of their death for anything. Like the disciples of old, "They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name" (Acts 5:41).
Mrs. Johnson and Bill, both faithful believers in the Lord Jesus, died in the way best for them. They serve as two extremes regarding death, one going in the way most people would desire, the other in a struggle for life - someone else's life - that doubtless involved great suffering and pain. Meaning no disrespect at all to Mrs. Johnson and her God-ordained passing, I have decided that if we could choose between the two, Bill's way would be best because it so reflected the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus. Preparing the message for his service changed my mind about this matter. It also led me to desire a life that far more reflects the "deaths" we experience day by day as we sacrifice fleshly attitudes and ways for the self sacrificial life of the Lord Jesus. So, we thank God for Mrs. Johnson and Bill, for the lives they lived, and for their deaths precious in the sight of the Lord.
"Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor."
Weekly Memory Verse
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."