“…to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).”
That’s the number of people who died today. A sobering statistic, and worth repeating to let the enormity of it soak in…155,000 people died this very day (just imagine if Grand Rapids emptied overnight).
It made me wonder how many people die each day after my neighbor had a massive heart attack and suddenly died! We were shocked and saddened, especially since as far as we knew he never let Jesus be his master. I invited him to church once and he declined saying, “The walls would fall down.”
Another friend just got diagnosed with ovarian cancer and will be part of that 155,000 soon. Luckily, she accepted Jesus in 1981 and can’t wait to see Him. As I prayed for her healing, I wondered what Jesus’ wanted for her. Was it really better to stay here in a broken world, or as Paul said, “to die is gain.” Wouldn’t Jesus rather have her in unimaginable bliss, as soon as possible, to shower her with the blessings He’s planned for centuries?
When I thought on that, I had a massive paradigm shift. For her and Jesus, death will be a precious introduction of inexpressible joy as they exchange first smiles. Considering her death from His viewpoint, wanting her home, changed my prayers for her. So if we are 100% sure that Jesus will welcome us as His precious possession, as she is convinced of–and not in fear as one who’s rejected His salvation–then death is an incredible gain! This changes everything! But can you be that confident, and really know for sure?
The Apostle John said that that was precisely why the Bible was written. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).” So if Heaven can be a certainty, and is so much better, why not take her home yesterday?
Peter answers, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).” His followers remain here as a compass pointing to True North, Jesus. Unfortunately, most of the 56 million people who will die this year, like my neighbor, will politely ignore Jesus, just as He said:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).”
So…are you in today’s 155,000? I’m sure my neighbor didn’t think so. Today may be your last chance, so why risk that when you can know for sure (Luke 12:20)? The Lord waits patiently, but He won’t wait forever. Why not make today what He wants for you…a real gain changer (2 Corinthians 6:2)?