When Death Stares

"The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death itself stared me in the face." 2 Samuel 22:6 NLT

She lay quietly on her bed…pale…yellow…a picture of death.

Though uncommon in their historical time period, both of my parents came from families with only two children. Mom received word recently that cancer had been discovered in several of her sister's major organs. The prognosis wasn't good. Six months at best. Her daughter called to say if we wanted to see her, we should come.

A number of family members gathered on a cool Friday morning to make the three hour drive. She greeted us with a smile, especially when she saw my two grandchildren she had only heard about. One-too young to know what was happening, sat on her stomach and cooed. The other-perceiving something was amiss since she was lying in a hospital bed, shyly gave her a kiss and said he loved her.

After a short visit, most of us said our goodbyes. While Mom hung around a little longer, my brother and I took a stroll. Since my aunt lives next door to what was once my grandparent's farm house, we had a chance to gander over the property. As I took the short stroll, a thousand memories were resurrected. Childhood memories of hunting, playing in the hog pens, picking weeds from cotton fields, sitting on my grandmother's front porch.

I knew I'd probably set foot on this property only one more time. Suddenly, it wasn't my aunt's impending doom staring me in the face anymore. My own mortality was gazing into my eyes-and with intensity.

David penned these words after God had rescued him from his enemies-particularly his father-in-law and archenemy Saul. On numerous occasions-as he fought and ran for his life, death stared him in the face. But each time, God delivered him.

My aunt wouldn't be delivered from death this time. Only its sting. Neither will I when the time comes. Unless I'm alive when the Lord returns, I, like everyone else, will walk through and be overcome by death's haunting shadow. It is appointed for everyone to die and after that to face the judgment. Yet I can do like David: cry out to the Lord in my distress.

Death is a reality. We may prolong it by healthy living choices, but eventually it will make its appearance. When it might stare us in the face is not as important as being ready when it does. Faith in Christ is the only preparation. We made sure our aunt had taken care of this. (Sometimes our focus is so much on others that we forget our own family.) She had.

Good news awaits. When we've made the faith connection, death ushers us into a wonderful eternity prepared by our Heavenly Father. Will you be confident of your eternal dwelling when death looks into your eyes?

Martin Wiles Hodges, South Carolina, USA

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