If my grandaddy Sid Darnall, my Mom's father, were alive today, I am fairly certain he would be quite surprised to see me at this age. I grew up less than a quarter of a mile from his house so he sat on his front porch and watched me grow up. He told me often that I would not live to be 20 years old because I was forever getting hurt riding my bicycle on that gravel road or falling out of a tree or the hay loft or cutting myself on something that I had no business messing with. But, he always let me know he loved me and was proud of my courage. I was very privileged to be able to sit by his side in a hospital room and spend most of a day, just the two of us, him unable to speak from a severe stroke and me doing all the talking. That day I was able to just tell him how much I loved him and how he had impacted my life. He just lay there very still, and occasionally nod with tears rolling down his cheeks. What a man of God he was! Next to my Dad, he was my hero and my spiritual mentor.
For several years now I have been able to actually see the end of my life on this earth. That prospect doesn't frighten me at all because I feel like David when he penned these simple words -
"I love the house where you live, O Lord,
the place where your glory dwells." Psalm 26:8 NIV
Although I cannot say for certain what David was thinking of as God's house, my instincts and knowledge of David's Psalms tend to make me think that for me, that "house" is a place inside my own spirit where I meet with my Father to just talk and listen. I do that daily and guard that place within me with fierce intensity.
Two great servants of Jesus come to mind as I think about the end of my earthly life and how I have had many failures and successes as a slave of Jesus Christ.
"Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he
must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and
his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against
those who do evil." 1 Peter 3:10-12 NIV
Peter quotes David's Psalm 34:12-16 as a lifestyle that will finally receive the blessing of God. Obviously, from the context, there were some Christians, then as now, who spent way too much time trying to "one-up" each other. Doing "good" is a sometime thing that can be easily cancelled by harsh, judgmental words that produce only evil outcomes. I am trying more and more to eliminate that kind of thinking and speaking from my life because we all have "feet of clay" to some extent. If we aren't careful we will tear down more than we will build up. I surely don't want that kind of memory left behind of who I was in God's kingdom.
"I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come
for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I
have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness
which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not
only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV
When Paul wrote these, his last recorded words, to Timothy, he speaks as a man who has truly given his all as a slave of Christ Jesus and is looking ahead beyond the final hour of earthly life to the "prize" as he called it, that the "Righteous Judge" will award to me too. Paul had endured some very hard years and many near death experiences and now was ready to hang it up for good.
I'm not THERE yet but my heart and my spirit are prepared for whatever lies ahead. It's all good because of two huge gifts God has already given me - (1) Jesus Christ and his righteousness, (2) the Holy Spirit. With those two indescribably gifts, I am already blessed beyond any words and live free. HALLELUJAH!