Death always seems to refocus life. It takes us by surprise. It saddens us. We live in a culture that does not like to think or even mention death. It’s taboo to be speak of. It’s not a dinner time conversation. Yet it’s healthy to think of. It’s important to plan ahead. It’s indeed necessary to think of.
More often than not we only think of death when it occurs. This is true of me and probably true of you as well. This is foolishness. There is nothing as certain as death. There are many uncertainties in this life, but one thing is certain; death. Why do we beat around the bush? Why do we not ask this question more often, “when I die (not if, but when), what will my legacy be? and what will happen to me after death?”
My wife’s dear grandfather passed away this past week. Provoking these questions and this blog. He was 95. As sudden as it was, and as much as it hurt to not come home to him being here (we were away on vacation), I have to say that I am so happy that He is gone. Some might think that is harsh, or not caring, or perhaps even downright mean. It’s not. Gerhard is in heaven. He is with His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I envy Gerhard. There are times that I long to be in heaven. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what was going to happen to him after he died. Do you? Have you ever, “Kneeled and prayed in an audible voice, surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, claimed Him as Savior and Lord and asked the Holy Spirit to guide you every step of the way.”? That was what he would call on people to do. Seems like everyone I talk to remembers Gerhard saying that to them.
I was unfortunate enough to only know Him for 2 years. His mind was mostly gone as he had dementia. I never had the privilege of a conversation with him. I look forward to meeting him in heaven. I look forward to that conversation. Like Gerhard, I know where I’ll be after I die. I’m certain of it. I can say that not because I prayed a prayer when I was young, not because I go to church, not because my parents are Christians, but because as certain as death is, there is one thing more certain, that is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ took my sins. The sins of a selfish, hateful, spiteful young man and bore the wrath of God on my behalf and took punishment that I totally deserve. The punishment that I still deserve. I know I’m going to heaven because of what Jesus did on the cross.
While on earth though there is still life to live. My citizenship is heaven (phil 3), my home is there. There is still a legacy left to leave. I might not live to 95 like Gerhard. I might not have tomorrow. So how will I be remembered? What stories will people tell? What lasting impact will I have?
Gerhard was the Patriarch of a strong family of believers. He has left a multi-generational legacy that is still producing fruit. I am thankful for His influence in the life of my wife and my in-laws and hope that one day my family will think of me in the same way. In Lieu of that I leave you with the challenge of asking these questions.
What basis do I have to enter eternity in heaven? What legacy will I leave here on earth?
Here is a link to the obituary for Grandpa Olson: