Over Labor Day weekend, a friend’s husband died. Only one year earlier, another friend became a widow. Both deaths were totally unexpected. Two men who died too soon.
You’ve heard all the classic lines:
He died before his time.
It was an untimely death.
No mother should have to bury her son.
He was only 58 years old!
Why does God take the good ones in their prime?
Listening to family members, friends and pastor sum up a life in an hour—we sit back and ask: Hmmm? Why did God snatch this one up when he was being such a faithful servant on this side of heaven? On this side, where we are in desperate need of a few good men. Daddies. Husbands.
We will all die at some point and only God knows exactly when. We read in Job 14:5: Man’s days are determined; you (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. The person going on to spend eternity in heaven gets the ultimate prize, but for those still living, what are we to learn from the “untimely” deaths of God’s faithful servants? Why did God hand-select these two men at this season of life, with retirement just around the corner? A grandbaby on the way. One more daughter to walk down the aisle.
Of course, we will never have all the answers. God has already told us that His ways are not our ways. But could God possibly be rearing up a very special army so that in death those left behind learn something about how to live?
When speaking at the more recent memorial service, the son shared many of the priceless life-lessons his dad taught him throughout the years. However, it wasn’t until after his dad’s death that the son realized the lasting legacy his dad left him—an example of unconditional love.
Seems he and his dad had not always shared the same interests. The dad preferred hunting and fishing in his spare time. The son was into coffee shops and computers. Because of their differences, he felt a division in their relationship.
Six months before the dad’s death, the two spent a whole day together in the son’s world. Going to his java hang-out, eating at his restaurant of choice and shopping at his favorite specialty grocery store. Doing what the son liked best. In the days leading up to the memorial service, the son heard that his dad had told some friends that “one day” was one of the best days of his life!
Sitting in the booth at the coffee shop with his son was better than sitting in the deer blind without him. This son, about to become a daddy himself, had learned a lesson in unconditional love. A lesson he will be able to pass on to his own child and wife. A true lasting legacy.
I wonder how many of us listening in the audience were pondering our own lasting legacy. What would we leave behind that would truly make a difference in the life of someone else?
How many of us women looked at our friend, now a widow, and feared that we too might be left alone at a “young” age? Did we get the nudge from the Spirit within to go home and love our husbands better? To stop trying to mold him into our perfect man, but love him as God’s perfect creation? To be thankful that we have someone beside us at night, despite the snoring?
These two individuals were physically large men, with huge, soft hearts. They were the life of the party and the glue that kept family and friends held together. Medically speaking, their hearts were damaged, but still capable of doing God’s work on this earth. Humbly, quietly, generously, unconditionally loving those who God placed in their lives—their too short of lives, according to the rest of us.
Two good, godly men. Two mothers left to bury their grown sons. Two wives who became widows with that last heartbeat. Countless, tearful family members and friends. All wondering why God took them home so early, when they were serving God so faithfully— on this side.
There is nothing like a memorial service to bring about the reality of our own fleeting existence in this, our temporary home. There is no guarantee of tomorrow or another chance to get it right. If we need to repent of our evil ways, how much longer can we wait?
These two men went suddenly. Without any warning. Do you think they might have procrastinated and postponed something important for the tomorrow that never came? Did they have a chance to repent of their sins or assure their wives and children of how much they loved them—before their deaths?
Not that God needs to explain a reason for doing what He does, but I do believe that there is a real purpose when He singles out those whose “untimely” deaths will make such a huge impact in the lives of those left behind. Personally, I could write a long list of such events.
must prepare for. Our ultimate reward is eternity spent in heaven and we can’t get there without dying. Most importantly, we can’t get there without having lived as citizens of God’s kingdom on earth.
How are we doing in the preparation department? What would it look like to live each day with no regrets? Are we living life to the fullest, fulfilling all that Jesus has asked and empowered us to do?
Are you able to proclaim this very day, as Paul did before his own death: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)?
Thankfully, God’s love never ceases and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). We have today, my friends.
Let us know if there’s something specific you feel led to do.
Our own death is an eminent reality that we