I just found out recently that the famous fictional author, John Grisham, is a follower of Christ. In the story I was reading they shared a defining moment in his spiritual journey and it went something like this —
Several years after graduating from Mississippi State University, when one of his classmates in law school told John he was terminally ill. Grisham asked him, “What do you do when you realize you are about to die?” The friend replied, “It’s real simple. You get things right with God, and you spend as much time with those you love as you can. Then you settle up with everybody else.”
The Old Testament is filled with moments of death only because those are also the time of blessings, just as Jacob’s upcoming passing in Genesis 48 caused him to reach out and bless Joseph’s sons.
Death was the reason Jesus came – and Jesus is the reason that John the Baptist came – two miracles expressed so beautifully in Luke 1 when Mary and Elizabeth greet each other.
Job expressed well what death looked like to him – what death looked like before Jesus. Sounds a lot like my favourite book, Ecclesiastes – few days, full of trouble, a shadow, and it does not continue. However, do not miss the hope –
O that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! – Job 14:13 (NRSV)
With life as short as it is and with Jesus being our only hope, it is for this very reason that I love discipling others. Discipleship keeps things simple. How to take the profound truths of the gospel, Jesus death and resurrection, and make them simple enough for people to pass from death to life. Paul tried to capture this struggle himself —
So that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:5 (NRSV)
I still remember my much older Dutch friend as I was leading him into the simple truths of what it meant to be a follower of Christ. We approached the topic of giving. He could not, he said if he did the heating bill would not be paid. We prayed. He decided on Sunday to trust God. When we met a few weeks later I asked if the heating bill was paid – he said yes. When I checked in again six months later he said that he made more money in the past six months than in the past year and a half. He passed from death to life in his walk with God, became a passionate follower of Christ and chaired the missions board at his church for ten years because others needed to hear about Jesus. He kept it simple – let them discover they could trust Him – trust His promises and place their hope in Him.