The family was gathered around the bed waiting for the end to come. The cancer had attacked so quickly Jim had been left with few treatment options. He was dying as gracefully as he had lived and we were all grieving the loss we knew was quickly approaching. For years he had poured his life into his work, his church and relationships. He was the guy who knew everyone’s name and took the time to listen. The man’s man that everyone loved.
In the end those he had helped, helped him. We took shifts staying with him around the clock. We did not want him to be alone. We all knew it was one of the greatest privileges of our lives. It was an honor to serve him the way he had served so many others.
The day of the funeral hundreds gathered to celebrate a life well lived. We all left amazed and humbled. Amazed at the quality of the man and humbled that we all had the privilege of knowing him. God had been very good to all of us by placing Jim in our lives.
Jim’s end was actually a new beginning. He closed his eyes and moved to stand before the One who knew him and loved him.
Somehow we all know the same will happen of us. We don’t know how or when or by what means it will come but it will come. Our families will go through what is left and reminisce about the times we shared together. Little acts of love and care, though seemingly insignificant at the time, will be sources of strength and grace to endure the days ahead.
Though all appears to be lost, things are not as they appear.
The end is a new beginning.
“One day I shall leave my home and not return that evening. I shall then be buried, forgotten, returned to the dust from whence I was made, remembered for a while only by those few who knew me well. I shall fade into the oblivion of the forgotten. All of my books, including this one, shall be cast on the great remainder table of history, shall crumble to dust and be forgotten. Whatever I accomplished shall tarnish and diminish.
And yet on the basis of what I have known of God, I believe that what seemed a conclusion will in reality be a commencement. I fully expect to hear the God who so sought me in life stoop down to me in death saying, ‘Yes, this face is familiar. I remember you. And where are the others you were to bring with you? Oh well, I’ve got a whole new world to show you, a large family, a great city. I never gave up on you. Can we talk? You haven’t seen anything yet. We’ve got all the time in the world.’
This is our salvation.”
Let us live in such a way that our end will become a grateful celebration. For those who die in Christ…it does not end. The end is a new beginning springing forth to everlasting life.