A friend of mine recently went to be with the Lord after enduring a long battle with leukemia. In his final weeks, as his strength slowly faded away, he told his family that he wished he could write a book titled What To Do While You Wait To Die. There would be no time to write a book, but I did tell him I would gladly share on my blog whatever he was learning along the way.
He expressed joy in the relationships God had blessed him with. As God gave him strength, he reached out to as many of these people as he could to thank and encourage them.
[I am] thankful to those who have been mentors to me. I’m young enough that many of those mentors are still alive, so I get to honor them and encourage them and just thank them so much for God’s ministry in my life.
On the other side, the Lord has given me pleasure in brotherhood and working shoulder to shoulder with men at church, men in different ministries, and that is just a great and wonderful thing. I certainly don’t deserve it, but I love it. The Lord is so kind and so good.
So, the first thing to do while you wait to die is invest in people. A committed evangelist, my friend also called as many unbelievers as he could to tell them about Jesus one last time.
He also rejoiced at how the Lord was using his disease to challenge other people and to give them an opportunity to respond with faith and love.
I’m beyond thrilled by how so many young people have come and encouraged me and my family. Oh, what a balm for these last few days. I never expected that, but what a lovely thing. I’ve told my family often that I don’t deserve that, but I am so grateful for it and I wish it. I don’t wish this disease on my worst enemy, but I do wish these discussions for all of my family and friends. God’s people can be so glorious and so kind and so gentle. It makes my bed softer. It makes the journey sweeter. I know it’s only by His goodness and His grace.
So I suppose the second thing to do when you are waiting to die is to be grateful and to look for every evidence of God’s grace.
And then he told of his deepening understanding of what matters the most in this world. A man who had been very successful in life and business, he was well-regarded by associates and ministries alike. He led companies and served on boards. Yet he realized that everything was being stripped away and he was being left with the one thing that matters.
As I graduate to the finish line, I can see quickly all of the shiny armor I thought was on me, fall and clink away as I make steps towards that final, final round. God wants me to be, essentially, free of anything in this world. What I came with is what I’ll leave with. Pretty much the exact same things. That’s nothing but Him, nothing but His providence, nothing but His mercy and grace. What a glorious shedding that has been! I’m no longer a CEO or COO or CIO or any fancy title, no longer part of a Board of Directors, or anything. I’m just a man who has to submit to God’s good and gracious will and just be faithful to Him.
When you store up treasures in heaven, it makes it much easier to leave this world behind.
The third and final thing, then, is to submit to God’s will and to rejoice that while we may leave this world as weak and helpless as when we arrived, we leave safe in the hands of a mighty God.
It was a blessing to know my friend, a blessing to see him serve the Lord to the end, and a blessing to join with so many others to honor him at his memorial service. And it will be a blessing to see him again when the Lord calls me to follow the same path.