Is it really possible to face the final stages of our earthly lives with confidence and without fear?
That is a very difficult and unsettling question to try and think about, but still worth a thought.
Death is not a very pleasant topic in any culture. And dying is not anything you want to think about, let alone prepare for! It is only talked about in funerals and written on eulogies but not beyond there.
Mark Ashton however brings in a christian perspective into the whole topic of death and dying in his little book ‘On my way to heaven’ by talking about his own last few months battling inoperable gallbladder cancer. Mark was the Vicar of St Andrew the Great in Cambridge for 23 years and in Dec 2008 he was diagnosed with cancer, after which the oncologist estimated that he had six to nine months to live.
The realization that he was dying, rather than depress him made him much more enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel in the following fifteen months that he lived. This came from meditation on the truth of what dying meant to him:
- In dying the opportunity to fall into sin was slowly diminishing and in his death he knew that he would have no ability to sin again whatsoever. For him, the hope of eternally being with Christ was greater than the desperate needs of our contemporaries of relief of physical pain and extension of physical life at all costs and a flock into ‘healing services’.
- The time to finally be with the Lord was here. Death meant facing the resurrection of Christ. It meant being exclusively in the the only one relationship that matters eternally.
It is in this true hope that Mark lived on and endured though painfully to his dying day. As Mark contemplated about eulogies, he wrote that having realistic eulogies represents an honest picture of a person’s life. It is in including a person’s failures and follies, their bad moods and intolerance, their moments of harshness and unkindness among others that Christ is glorified, because we all die as great sinners saved by the great grace of God.
1st Peter 1:3-5 ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time’. That is the hope that Mark has talked about all through this book!
I recommend this little easy to read book to everyone who desires to get to heaven in the hope that reading it will ease a little bit-if not all-anxiety to face death regardless of when or how it comes confident in Christ.
You can find the above and other books by Mark Ashton and other great writers in https://iserveafricabookstore.wordpress.com/