Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Life Well-Loved

 “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” 
Numbers 23:10 (KJV

I was recently emailing my dear friend, Sis. Margie, who just lost her brother, Jim.  They were very close, and he was very precious to her heart.  The empty spot he left will be keenly felt for a long time to come.  As I was writing, I made a comment to her about him being a well-loved man.  He was someone who was special to Kevin, Zachary, and me, on a personal level.  He was a kind man.  A humble man.  A man who was there to comfort and bless and encourage us more than once.  He had a discerning spirit of understanding that ministered to us in a real and much-needed way.

When I was little, I remember being at his farm.  He and his wife, Ida, invited a lot of children and young people to come for a cookout and hayride.  I remember the moment I fell…off the back of the wagon.  I was scared and blood was running down my leg from a gash during the fall.  I still have a scar, and each time I have looked at it through the years, I have thought of him and that moment and how concerned he was when he came over to make sure I was okay.  I’ll never forget that.

Through my growing up years, I was close to his daughter, Jennifer, and I remember going there to spend nights and sleeping in the upstairs bedroom of their farmhouse.  I remember going to their church with my parents through the years growing up, and feeling the glory of God fall time after time, as old-time preaching went forth under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  There was an atmosphere of holiness and worship there that was very comforting to me, as a child.

I lost touch with them for many years after I moved far away, until Jennifer was able to get my email address and contact me.  It was wonderful to be able to correspond and reconnect.  Our communication led to her parents coming to visit us and spending some nights in our home a few years ago, and later, a second visit when Bro. Jim and his sister came to our home for a few days.  During these visits, I was able to get to know him better as an adult than I did as a child, and Kevin was able to become well-acquainted with him.  Our fellowship, talks, and times of prayer with him were sweet.  He lived a Godly life that, to me, was above reproach. 

The last time we saw him, he was standing behind a pulpit at the close of a meeting, pleading with souls to turn their lives over to Christ.  I remember the look in his eyes, as he spoke of eternity and how serious it is to make sure we are ready to meet God after this life.  He had a sincere, heavy burden for souls.  The church was packed with people, and he cared that there may be some in the large crowd who had never trusted in Jesus and surrendered their hearts to Him.  There was a genuine quality about him that was unmistakable. 

He suffered greatly during the last few months of his life.  We recently heard a recording of a testimony he gave a short time ago.  He spoke of his suffering and the intensity of it and how during it he had witnessed the glory of God.  He had a vision of things eternal that he could hardly put into words.  It touched me deeply.

His body is now buried.  His race has been run.  In my heart, I have no doubt that he has traded his heavy cross for a crown….the crown the Apostle Paul spoke of in 2 Timothy 4:8 (KJV), “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day:  and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.”  I believe Bro. Jim did not draw back when he knew death was near.  I believe he looked beyond the crossing to the other side and what awaited him there. 

I believe he viewed his suffering in this life the way Paul did in 2 Corinthians 4:17 (KJV), “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…” 

He was a well-loved man.  He will be sorely missed…by his family, his many friends, and the church.  We are left to wonder why God took him.  To me, God would have received so much more glory had He miraculously healed him and raised him up to further service for Him in THIS life.  But, we can’t see the whole picture.  We do not know God’s thoughts.  They are far above ours.  We are not meant to understand everything.  There are things we simply have to commit to God’s wisdom, knowing He doeth all things well.

A life well-loved.  Isn’t that something we all long for?  To be loved and respected and cared about by the ones around us and whom our lives touch?  How do we attain that?  What would cause someone else to say that about us after our death? 

There is a very sad story found in 2 Chronicles 21:1-20 about a king named Jehoram.  He was the firstborn of his father, Jehoshaphat, so he automatically inherited the position of king after Jehoshaphat died.  Unlike his father, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram was an extremely wicked man.  After he became king, he killed all of his brothers with a sword and many other princes in Israel.  He committed abominable acts and used his power for all the wrong reasons. 

The prophet, Elijah, prophesied that Jehoram would suffer severe punishment from God for the horrible things he had done.  Sure enough, Jehoram became very ill, and at the end of two years, he died of sore diseases.  After he died, verse 19-20 says, “And his people made no burning for him, like the burning of his fathers.  Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years, and departed without being desired…”

He departed without being desired.

His death was to the sorrow of no one.

It mattered to no one that he was gone.

What a sad, pitiful story!  His was a life well-hated.  There was no love lost between him and any other human being.  No one mourned his death.  No burning ceremony was made for him.  He died at the age of 40 and left a legacy of abuse and unbelievable evil.  And no one cared that he was dead.

Verse 20 goes on to say this, “Howbeit they buried him in the city of David, but not in the sepulchres of the kings.”  Because they were decent people, they gave him a burial…but it wasn’t the burial fit for what he was…a king. 

So, which ending do we want to have?  The kind of Bro. Jim Sallee…his family near, his friends fasting, praying, and interceding for him, his loved ones grieving deep over his departure?  Or the kind of King Jehoram…where no one…not a soul cared that he was gone?  May we all “die the death of the righteous”, and may we leave behind a legacy of having lived a life well-loved.

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