The Obits :: by Grant Phillips

I’ve spent the last hour and a half this morning reading the obituaries from my former hometown where I grew up. I’ve been away from there now going on 25 years and very rarely have I returned except maybe to attend a funeral. It’s been three years now since my last visit.

Even though my current hometown has become my home now both physically and in my heart, I still have many pleasant memories of the area where I grew up. Just a few family members are left and many of my friends have either moved away or passed away.

Obviously I am looking backwards on many birthdays in my life and now have an interest in reading the obits on occasion. I have heard it said that the older we get the more we tend to have an interest in that area of the newspapers. Well I’ve gone on line to check the local funeral home in the old hometown to see who has passed away over the last few years. To my surprise, many have gone on. Several died just last year.

It’s a sobering thought to read the names and see the pictures in the obituaries of people you once interacted with, usually through family or school. It stamps an indelible impression upon you that life is short. Time goes by quickly, very quickly I might add. As I read the names and look at the pictures, I can still hear their voices. Now some are in Heaven with our Lord. Some may not be.

It does seem to be true that the ages of the deceased usually run in the higher numbers, but it is also very noticeable that the ages surprisingly vary, and many are quite young. Death is imminent for all of us.

The two major imminent events we face are death and the rapture of the Church, and we must be prepared for both. Why? We don’t know the future, and is not the next minute, the next second, the future? Either the Rapture or death can happen in our next breath or lack thereof.

Most of us live as though we will live forever. We make plans we feel confident we will keep. We live in the present as though there are no consequences for our actions. Sooner or later, we will be nose to nose with either meeting Jesus through the death of our body or His snatching us away to Himself in the Rapture,if, we are His.

The young especially have very little thought of dying. The older we become, we seem to think about that more often. Some of you may be saying, “My goodness, what a morbid subject,” but death to the Christian is not morbid. It is our time to be present with the Lord for all eternity. “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8)

How many of us have this assurance? If we are not confident in our heart that regardless of the means I leave this world I’ll be with Jesus for all eternity, then we certainly need to make this a priority in our life. Remember that I mentioned those of young ages who are listed in the obituaries. They did not expect their time to be so soon. We who are older can expect that, but not the young. Age makes no difference with the suddenness of death or the Rapture. They both are in God’s hands.

Some think that either there is nothing beyond physical death, or that God is a loving God and would not send anyone to hell. Jesus says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27) Read the New Testament. Over and over Jesus warns of judgment. He spoke more of judgment than anything else. If there were no judgment, there would have been no need for Jesus to have taken our judgment in order to provide us the only path to God. By our trusting in Him, we can be saved from judgment. Otherwise, we will face our own judgment, and it is hell.

You would think the first thing that would enter my mind while reading the names and seeing the pictures of family members and friends who have passed away in Jesus would be thoughts of sadness. Actually, that wasn’t it at all. The first thing that came to me was trying to picture the look of happiness upon them because they are now in Heaven with Jesus Christ. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Have you ever just sat back during a quiet moment and tried to picture the thrill of being in Heaven with Jesus, the angels, and a host of people you either can’t wait to see again or meet for the first time?

I pray that if you are reading this article, and your name and picture one day appear in the obituary column, that you are in Heaven with Jesus Christ and enjoying a life we can’t even fathom while here on this earth. If someone is reading about your demise in the obits, let it be said, that you are more alive than ever and are now home in Heaven with your Savior and Lord.