Monday, March 28, 2011

How Well Will You Die?

Death is a very difficult subject to think about or talk about. Death is often talked about in hushed and somber tones. There are a number of superstitious beliefs that are expressed when the "taboo" is broached. My favorite quip concerning death is, "If I knew where I was going to die, I would never go near the spot!"
I was reminded once again how frightened some people are of the thought of dieing when I read a newspaper report related to the death of Elizabeth Taylor. I was surprised to read the following:
"LOS ANGELES (AP) — Zsa Zsa Gabor’s publicist says the shock of Elizabeth Taylor’s death made Gabor fear she was next and sent her to the hospital with high blood pressure.
John Blanchette says the 94-year-old celebrity was watching the news Wednesday morning at her Los Angeles home when she learned her friend and one-time neighbor had died.
 Blanchette says Gabor was inconsolable and commented: “Oh, Jane Russell and Liz Taylor — I’m next.” That’s a reference to the common myth that celebrity deaths come in threes."
 I was not surprised about Gabor's fear of death. Many people truly fear death. I think they fear death, first of all for good reason, and secondly, because it is natural to fear death. Death remains that great unknown and it is so very permanent. The person who has not been made alive by God through the Holy Spirit does not possess that comfort and assurance spoken of by Paul in II Corinthians 5:8, " be absent from the body...present with the Lord." The moment a believer's soul exits the body the believer is in heaven and in the presence of God. That gives absolute comfort, joy, and assurance to those who are in Christ. It also enables a believer to die well.
I was reading the Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards yesterday and the account of the death of his sister caused me to think on this subject. The account of her death caused me to exclaim, "She died well!" It also prompted this post.
In September of 1728 Jonathan Edwards traveled to Northampton, MA to visit his sister, Jerusha. After the visit she developed a fever and on December 22, 1728 she died.Here is the account of Jerusha's death.
"During her sickness she was not forsaken. A day or two before its termination, she manifested a remarkable admiration of the grace and mercy of God, through Jesus Christ, to sinners, and particularly to herself: saying, "It is wonderful, it surprises me." A part of the time she was in some degree delirious: but, when her her mind wandered, it seemed to wander heavenward. Just before her death, she attempted to sing a hymn, '"The Absence of Christ," and died in the full possession of her rational powers, expressing her hope of eternal salvation through his blood." 
Based on the account in the Memoirs, Jerusha Edwards died well. She died confident, comforted, and courageous. She died trusting the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. How different that is from some of the following individuals who died.
Codeine . . . bourbon.
~~ Tallulah Bankhead, actress, d. December 12, 1968
All is lost. Monks, monks, monks!
~~ Henry VIII, King of England, d. 1547

I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.
~~ Thomas Hobbes, writer, d. 1679

I see black light.
~~ Victor Hugo, writer, d. May 22, 1885

"Oh God, here I go..." Max Baer, boxer (1909-1959)

I want to die well. If conscious I would like to go singing a hymn, quoting scripture, or even praying thankfully for God's grace. I have not thought about my last words yet, but I do have written what I would like engraved on my Tombstone:

A husband, a father, a friend for a time
but now he has come to the end of the line
our gracious God was merely a lender
therefore, please return him to sender

What are some of your favorite superstitions about death?

What would you consider dieing "well?"


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Gregg, as a person I am a very positive person, I have my beliefs and faults like everyone else,I have one big fear I am afraid I couldn't finished reading your post today.

Enjoy your day,

Scott said...

Yvonne, death has no fear when we know the One who has defeated it.

Gregg, I just finished a biography of Richard Baxter, and as he was dying he welcomed friends to come and see him to "learn to die well." May we die well for the glory of our King!

Cathy M. said...

I have some concerns about dying, but none about death as a state of being. I long to be with my King and liberated from this body of sin. Oh what a wonderful day that will be!

Poor Zsa Zsa. I hope she will respond to the Gospel while there is still time.

Kansas Bob said...

We were just talking about this topic at our men's study this morning Gregg. I shared a bit about my first wife's passing and also mentioned the class with which Stephen died in Acts. He definitely died well.

Anonymous said...

"His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'" Matthew 25:23

Fantastic post!

Persis said...

Praise the Lord that death has no sting for the believer.
I would like to die rejoicing without fear, knowing that I will be with the Lord forever.

Anonymous said...

I think of this a lot since my mother is 85 with severe dementia. I pray that God will be merciful and never take away His Word from my mind and that I may rejoice and proclaim Him to the end.

Arlee Bird said...

I can't think of a superstition about death. When I die I wouldn't want to be in extreme paint or struggling for breath. Dying well would be to quietly and peacefully drift off after having said goodbye to whomever might be there.
I was at my father's bedside when he passed, but due to pain he was so drugged up on morphine that he was unconcious for a good while before he finally died.

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Penned Pebbles said...

I don't really have any superstitions about death. I hope that whatever condition I'm in at the moment of death, that I would still be able to point to the reality of Christ in some way.