One of the statements on my Facebook page that struck me this morning when I did my daily trawl was one by Franklin Graham: “This week pop icon George Michael passed away at age 53, Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher died at 60, and award winning Watership Down author Richard Adams died at the age of 96. From the unknown to the most well-known, we all have something in common—death. Our time on earth is brief—the Bible says like “a vapor.” And each of us will stand before Almighty God to give an account. The decision that will determine where we spend eternity is whether we have believed in His Son, Jesus Christ, trusting Him as our Savior and following Him as Lord. There are no VIP passes or exceptions. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). I hope each of these people had made that all-important decision before they took their last breath on earth—Have you? If you haven’t, call on Him today. Don’t delay”.
A number of things struck me, in the light of these events and other postings on social and other media. I have come to a conclusion my coming up for three years as a blogger, well on my way to making a thousand posts is it is meant to be a commentary on the times I live in, albeit in the realization that while I would like to take a detached, global view often it is an undetached view from my own petty personal perspective and at best it is something in-between. A few of the folk who have commented on such matters have reflected on the fact it has been a year of celebrity deaths, although I suspect that if a detailed analysis were to be done we would find every year is like that. Even so, and speaking from a personal point of view of course, it has struck me not only have many well known personalities died in 2016 but a number of them I can identify with, whose life and work has made some sort of impact. Regarding the afore-mentioned quote, I had earlier blogged about George Michael but not Carrie Fisher and Richard Adams, whose works (film and book) I am well aware and have in the distant past enjoyed.
Death is still seen as a taboo subject and divine judgment even more so, and while some might take issue with the latter ever happening no one can deny death is a certainty (unless the Lord comes beforehand), and if that is true it might be better to face up to the fact rather than burying our heads in the sand, ostrich like. I have found among my Christian friends that attitudes toward Franklin Graham are mixed. While I take a view on such matters, I am a great believer that even people with who I disagree profoundly, if they say something true and profound then I take heed, and that is what Mr. Graham did. The verse mentioned above was quoted by a friend of mine who was reflecting on one of these deaths, and this brought about all sorts of reactions by his Facebook “friends”, including me.
I don’t speak about this much, but these considerations and this being the Christmas season when we invariably think about loved ones who have died, brought to my mind the death of my dad, 38 years ago. There is much that went through my mind that I won’t share here, but the one thing I will relate is that it was sudden, instantaneous and unexpected, as a result of a road accident, and when it comes to that “all important decision” Mr. Graham refers to, I cannot be sure if it is one dad made. Yet I loved my dad and the thought I might not spend eternity with him fills me with a certain foreboding. I could extend the thought to the many, senseless deaths, among the innocent, that took place this year as a result of the various conflicts going on in the world. I don’t say these things to be morbid but rather as a gentle wake-up call to those who mourn and wish to make sense of these celebrity and other deaths.
The first thing to say is what happens after the death of anyone is in God’s hands and is where we must leave it. The second is it is right to mourn and pay our respects to those who have died. The third is to recognize as sad as these deaths are, even sadder are the deaths of many times than number of innocent people in places like Syria, Iraq and Yemen, not to mention we all have relatives and loved ones who die and should we not mourn these? Finally, a question for all to consider: are you ready to meet God?