This past Friday evening I had the occasion to minister to one of our church family who has been battling colon cancer over the last two years. Tom H was diagnosed two years ago with stage 4 colon cancer. On Friday evening his wife Denise called me to tell me that she was at the hospital with Tom and that he had a heart attack. When I went to the hospital to see Tom he seemed to be in pretty good spirits and wasn’t experiencing a lot of pain. He told Denise and me that he would be dying tomorrow. This gave me another opportunity to share with Tom the living hope that we have as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ of eternal life that is found in Jesus. Tom assured me that he was ready to be brought into the presence of the Lord of eternity. I left Friday evening with Denise confident that Tom wasn’t leaving this life tomorrow. I did text Denise early on Saturday morning about going to see Tom at the hospital and later she called to tell me that Tom had taken a turn for the worse. But once again when I got there shortly afterward, Tom appeared very coherent and resting comfortably. I shared the 23rd Psalm with Tom and Denise and talked about having the Lord as our shepherd. I also shared from John 10:11 which states, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep,” (NIV). Tom assured me once again he was trusting in the finished work of the Good Shepherd for his eternal destination.
My wife Deb and I were attending a pastor and wife’s fellowship on Saturday afternoon, and I was surprised when shortly after arriving Denise called to tell me that Tom had passed into eternity. Having a premonition on Friday that he was going to pass into eternity on Saturday I believe Tom was prepared to meet his Savior. Now most of us will never have a clear premonition of when we are going to die. I can contrast Tom’s sense of his impending death with that of my grandson Tyler’s father Bill, who in the early morning hours of August 9 was killed by a hit-and-run driver walking home from the bar. He had no idea that when he went out that night that it would be the last night of his life. For all of us, being ready to meet the Lord Jesus Christ at any moment in time is not something that we should put off.
We should definitely be prepared to be brought into Jesus’s presence at any moment in time. If the Lord Jesus returns for His church in our lifetime, and you are a follower of Jesus, you will be instantly brought into His presence without any advance warning. Paul tells us to be ready and prepared for this moment (1Thess.4:13-18). But I don’t think any of us should assume that we’re going to have tomorrow. Each day is a gift from God and should be celebrated as such. Don’t put off till tomorrow what you need to do today. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual decisions that we need to make. There is no greater need that any of us have than the need to be in a right relationship with the Lord God of the universe, through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Trusting in the sacrificial death of Jesus to cover our sins and putting our faith and trust in the risen Savior is the greatest discovery that we can make. Then we can say with the Psalmist, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”, (Ps. 23:1). I’m pretty certain Tom H was able to say that on the last night of his life. The question is -can you say “The Lord is my shepherd” because you have a personal relationship with the good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep?
All for Christ, Pastor Rich Sivo