For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21).
I said goodbye to Brian yesterday, even though I’d never had the opportunity to say hello to him. But that’s all right because Brian was a Christian and so am I, so I know I’ll have the chance to greet him one day soon.
Brian was thirty-three years old, the same age as Jesus when He died on the cross. Brian was raised in the Christian faith but, like many young people, walked away for a while. A few years ago, however, God gave Brian a “divine appointment” via a Christian hairdresser who led him back into the fold. As a result, Brian’s memorial service was the celebration of a young man whose heart belonged to the Lord and who had gone on ahead of us to be with Him—one more treasure in heaven, awaiting our arrival.
As a friend and colleague of Brian’s mother, Yvonne, I attended the service for her precious son, as did several other writer/speaker friends, to support our dear sister in her loss. And though saying a temporary goodbye to her beloved only child was undoubtedly one of the most difficult ordeals Yvonne has ever or will ever endure, she did so with such grace and faith, to the point of delivering a powerful eulogy to Brian, which she ended by lifting her hand to point heavenward as she declared the truth of Philippians 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Then she added, “Brian has gained.”
How true that is! Though we grieve the loss of loved ones, we don’t as believers grieve as those who have no hope, for we know that we will again see those who have died in the faith, even as we continue to live in it. That’s why, though I never had the privilege of meeting Brian on this earth, I know I will one day say “hello” to him in heaven, for we share the same faith, the same Father, the same Savior. And in truth, there is no other.
For just as surely as those of us who have received Jesus Christ as Savior are assured an eternal home in the presence of God the Father, those who have rejected Christ are assured eternal separation from Him—unless they repent before they breathe their last. If you are living for Christ, then you’re in a win-win situation: serving Him here, or “graduating” to heaven to be with Him forever. But if you are not serving/loving Him here, you’re in a lose-lose situation, and only humbling your heart before Him and receiving His forgiveness can ever make the difference.
Don’t wait, beloved. Brian was only thirty-three years old when God called him home. We are not promised tomorrow—only today, which the Bible says “is the day of salvation.” Make it right in your own heart/life, and then commit yourself to praying for others who need to do the same.