Tag Archives: Death

A Death Too Soon

It’s hard to know what to say at a time like this.  Everything is going along like normal, you’re in a routine, and then your phone buzzes with a text message saying that your cousin, 21 years old, just died in a car wreck.  Shock sets in immediately.  And then the utter feeling of helplessness.

I loved Colby Miller, and his sudden death still has me seriously shaken up several days later, but I’m way down on the totem pole of people who were affected by his death.  He left behind him the love of his life, and a three-month-old son, devastated parents, a brother, a sister, grandparents, and various other extended family members who knew him much better than I (a side-effect of not living nearby).  The congregation in Wetaug, Illinois is hurting as well, and is still in shock.  It was evident in the words which were spoken yesterday (at both services), the eyes filled with sadness, the hugs that were freely given and held longer than normal, the feeling that no one really wanted to say “goodbye.”

But still, I feel the immense loss, the pain that is pervading the family, especially now as the wound is still fresh.  As Jesse and I left the graveside where they laid Colby next to his hero—his (and my) grandpa Don—I couldn’t help but notice names, names of people I have known, names of family members who I once talked with, smiled with, laughed with, and loved.  Half of my family history is buried in that cemetery.

The past few days have got me thinking hard about many things, and I hope that somehow, through this, I can … I don’t know, do something.  So, here goes.

Take the time to tell others that you love them.

As was painfully driven home to me this past week, you don’t know that you’ll ever see a loved one again.  Something might happen to you.  Something might happen to him or her.  Brad Paisley sang a song about writing a letter to his younger self, and it includes the line “P.S. Go hug Aunt Rita every chance you can.”  The implication being that she wasn’t alive anymore by the time he wrote.  Don’t wait to tell and show people that you love them, and don’t assume that you’ll have other opportunities.  You don’t know that.  Take the time, make the opportunity now to let people know you care.

Be a friend to others.

At the visitation for Colby, there was an unbroken line of people coming in for over five hours.  I don’t know the exact number, but it was over 700.  Some were friends of his parents, others were friends of Colby himself.  But make no mistake, these people came because of friendship.  Colby was a friend to many people, had an impact on the lives of many people.  I’ve seen funerals before where hardly anyone came because the deceased didn’t have many friends.  Christians, more than anyone else, should have an impact for good on the lives around them.  Think of all the opportunities you have to reach out to others, to help others, to be a friend to others.  Don’t waste your time—make it worthwhile in reaching others.

Drive carefully.

Colby was lost, on an unfamiliar road, trying to get somewhere.  But he was also in a hurry, and wasn’t able to make a turn.  It’s then that his truck left the road, and … well, I don’t want to go into what happened next, but it is what caused me to receive the text mentioned at the beginning of this post.  When we got to Illinois and joined with the family before the public visitation began, my grandmother (and Colby’s) hugged me harder than she’s ever hugged me before, and said “Don’t let this happen to you.”  She knew that I used to have a lead foot.  She was begging me to make sure I drove safely.

I could go into the truth that a Christian is to obey the laws of the land (including the speed limit), but I also want you to realize that these laws are there to help keep us safe.  It’s most likely that if everyone drove the speed limit, I wouldn’t be writing this today.  But now, every time a car passes us on the interstate, I see it crashing, and I find myself praying a silent prayer that it doesn’t happen.

There are people that care about you.  If for no other reason, drive safely for their sakes.

Pray.

Colby’s family could really use your prayers right now.  It will be a very long time before they approach anything even close to “normal.”  The congregation of the Lord’s church in Wetaug, Illinois, could use your prayers as well.  This hit them very hard too.

In the meantime, don’t assume that you’ve got tomorrow to tell people that you care—do it now.  Don’t wait to give a hug, to make a visit, to pick up the phone and call, to show that you love them, or that you are their friend—do it now.

And please, stay safe.

-Bradley S. Cobb

When Did You Wake Up?…Or Did You?

If you’ve done much driving, you’ve had this experience. You’re on the road when you start getting tired. You’ve heard about people who fell asleep behind the wheel, and you know how dangerous it can be to drive tired, but you knew that it wouldn’t get you. You’re a good driver.

That’s what everyone thinks.

The question is, when you realized that you were getting sleepy, what did you do?

Fight it?

Some people fight off sleep, realizing that they’re nodding off and struggle against it. Maybe they roll down the window and stick their head out. Maybe they pull over and walk around the car a few times. Maybe they turn up the music. Whatever it is, they recognize that they are starting to nod off and they work to make sure they wake up.

Spiritually, there are people who are self-aware enough to realize that they’re starting to drift off to sleep, and they make a concerted effort to wake themselves up. They will rededicate themselves to the Lord. They will put more thought into their prayers and singing. They will get back to studying their Bibles. In short, they make certain that they don’t fall into the trap of falling asleep spiritually.

“Therefore, let us not sleep as others, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).

Need a warning?

On the road, cars and trucks are often seen drifting onto the shoulder until they hit that warning—the rumble strip. That warning is often enough to wake up the driver. It makes the driver stop and think “I’ve been getting tired and I need to wake up.” And many times, that’s all it takes.

1 Corinthians 11:30 was a warning designed to wake up the Christians in Corinth before it was too late. Because of a lack of thought and dedication, Christians were getting spiritually sick and some had even fallen asleep—they were spiritually dead!

“Careless soul, O heed the warning, for your life may soon be gone. O, how sad to face the judgment unprepared to meet thy God.”

Get scared?

One time, I was driving early in the morning, delivering newspapers, trying not to fall asleep. I had turned onto a road that led to a fancy subdivision. And that’s all I remember until I heard the loud WHAM! as I ran into the mailbox of the Lutheran Church and sent it flying fifty feet or so into their yard. That jolt, that noise scared me so badly that I had no problem staying awake the rest of the morning.

Nathan, a prophet of God, came and spoke to David about his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:1-13). David had committed these horrible atrocities against Uriah (Bathsheba’s husband) and Bathsheba herself, but for some reason, the impact of those sins didn’t get through to him. He knew his actions were wrong, because he kept trying to hide them. But spiritually, he was asleep. It wasn’t until Nathan told the parable and explained that David was the sinner in question that David finally woke up. That was the scare that got him to realize that he’d drifted from God.

Down in the worst possible condition?

Many years ago, when my brother had just gotten his license, he was out delivering newspapers when he fell asleep. His vehicle went off the side of the road, and he went down into a culvert. He didn’t wake up until his vehicle was upside-down, all the windows shattered, and he was hanging upside-down from the seat, held on only by the seatbelt.

It takes a lot to wake some people up, spiritually. They have to be in the worst possible condition before they recognize that they’ve drifted into spiritual slumber. Jesus told a story about a son who had ran off from home with his inheritance and had wasted all of it on partying and “riotous living.” He finally found himself far from home, working for a foreigner feeding pigs. He was so hungry that he actually considered eating the pig slop. It was about that time that Jesus said the young man “came to himself.” That is, he finally realized just how bad things were and woke up.

“It is now high time to awake out of sleep” (Romans 13:11).

Or did you not wake up at all?

My grandfather was taking some medicine which made him drowsy. Shortly after leaving a drive-through restaurant and getting back on the road, he fell asleep and the car wrapped itself around a tree. My grandmother survived, but my grandfather didn’t.

With some people, spiritual sleep is ignored until it’s too late. They are spiritually asleep, spiritually dead, and they don’t change. Then they die physically, and their condition is now permanent. They are lost eternally.

“There’s a sad day coming, a sad day coming, there’s a sad day coming by and by, when the sinner shall hear his doom, ‘Depart, I know you not.’ Are YOU ready for that day to come?”

Why are you sleeping?

What is it that causes spiritual sleep? Many things can contribute to it, but it is all on you. A lack of study. A lack of prayer. A lack of focus and thought. A lack of action. A lack of planning. We can blame other people and other events all we want, but when we get to the judgment, we will have to answer for our own actions. Why did YOU fall asleep? Why did you STAY asleep?

Are you sleeping?

“It is high time to awaken out of sleep” (Romans 13:11).

“Let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).

-Bradley Cobb

A Lesson Learned from a Gravestone

In Randolph, VT, there stands a tombstone of a woman named Phebe Fish.  There is not really much I can tell you about her except that on her tombstone is a mighty reminder that you never know when you’re going to die–and so you’d better be prepared for it.

The lines under her name and age (just 34) read as follows:

Weeping husband, and children too,
I must bid you all adieu,
Widowed mother, fathers all,
And sisters, too, I sadly call,
Prepare for death, for here you see,
How soon and sudden it may be.

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

O, Come Angel Band

It’s time again for another Sermon Wednesday, and we’re still continuing our theme of “Singing with the Understanding.”  The song we’ll be looking at today is one that isn’t as familiar with most Christians.  It’s called “My Latest Sun is Sinking Fast” or “O, Come Angel Band” depending on which songbook you might use.

Intro:

The apostle Paul stated that he was torn. He wanted to die so he could go to be with the Lord, which is far better; but at the same time, he knew that he was still needed to fulfill his mission here on earth.

It seems like many Christians today aren’t really all that torn. By that, I mean that they’re really tied to this earth and just plain want to stay. When you talk to them, they say, “I’m ready to go to heaven, I just hope it isn’t any time soon.” Or “I’ve got a lot of work to do. But if God decides it’s my time to go, then I guess that’s okay too.”

Do you see a difference between the two attitudes? One longs for heaven, but realizes that he might have to stay here on earth longer to keep working for the Lord. The other longs to stay, but reluctantly agrees to go to heaven if it’s his time.

There’s a song in our songbooks called “My Latest Sun is Sinking Fast,” and in it, the idea is I’m ready to go home. I want to go home. I know where my home is.  It was written by an older man whose days were coming to an end, but I think this is an attitude that we all can and should have all the time.

Verse 1

Jesus said he had to work during the day (while he’s still alive), because the night is coming in which no man can work (death)—John 9:4.

Work for the night is coming.
Work through the morning hours.
Work while the dew is sparkling.
Work ‘mid springing flowers.
Work when the day grows brighter.
Work in the glowing sun.
Work, for the night is coming
when man’s work is done
.”

We must work with the realization that this may indeed be our last day. Our final sunset may be just on the horizon.

We must be like the apostle Paul who was able to say “I have finished my course” (II Tim. 4:7), but you know he was still working when he wrote those words.  “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).

My latest sun is sinking fast, my race is nearly run.

Look back in your life and contemplate all the difficulties that you’ve made it through. Look at all the trials that God has seen you through—ones that you didn’t know how you were going to endure. Yet God’s helped you through each and every one of them. You made it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Sure, there may still be some difficult times ahead, but realize that God’s with you. God will help you through them all. And when you realize that, these “strong trials” lose some of their bite. When you’re truly relying on God, you’ll be like our friend and sister Linda Foshee, who calls the trials of life “life’s little speed bumps.”

My strongest trials now are past, My triumph is begun.

Verse 2

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day. And not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing” (II Tim. 4:7-8).

For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thes. 4:16-17).

King David said of his son who had passed away, “I shall go to him” (II Sam 12:23).

One of the great promises in these passages is that we will be reunited with friends and loved ones who died faithful to God. That’s why the song says:

I know I’m near the holy ranks of friends and kindred dear.

The Promised Land is within eyesight. The Israelites are gathered on the banks of the Jordan River looking over into the land that God has promised to give them. They see it. They ache for it—it’s home. But between them and their new home is the Jordan River. And they cannot cross it until God decides it’s time. But they know it’s coming.

In the same way, we need to be looking beyond, seeing heaven, longing for our new home, and being ready when God opens the way for us to be there.

I brush the dews on Jordan’s banks, the crossing must be near.

Verse 3

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may KNOW you have eternal life. And that you may believe on the name of the Son of God” (I John 5:13).

Then the King shall say unto them on His right hand, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (Matt. 25:34).

Enter into the joy of thy Master” (Matt. 25:23).

We read of a place that’s called heaven,
It’s made for the pure and the free.
This truth in God’s word we are given.
How beautiful heaven must be.

I’ve almost gained my heavenly home, My spirit loudly sings.

And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:20-22).

There was a song many years ago about the beauty of the death of God’s faithful. It went:

Gathering flowers for the Master’s bouquet,
Beautiful flowers that will never decay.
Gathered by angels and carried away,
Forever to bloom in the Master’s bouquet.

And our song today says it this way:

Thy holy ones, behold they come, I hear the noise of wings.
O come angel band,
Come and around me stand.
O bear me away on your snowy wings to my immortal home.
O bear me away on your snowy wings to my immortal home.

Conclusion:

Is that your attitude? Are you ready to go right now? Are you ready for that day to come? If you’re not ready—truly ready—then you won’t make it.

But what a wonderful thought—that God loves His faithful people so much that He send His angels to bring them to their eternal home. God takes care of us in this life. He takes care of us in the next. And He takes care of us as we’re going from one to the other.

Don’t you want that wonderful blessing? God has offered it to you through the death of His Son, Jesus the Christ. Come to Him, believing in His Son and His resurrection from the dead. Leave your sins behind as you confess His wonderful name and are baptized into glorious forgiveness.

-Bradley S. Cobb