Missionary and martyr Jim Elliot had many famous quotes, most of which were gleaned after his death from his journals. The most quoted, I would imagine, is: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Those familiar words were even more significant when you consider that Elliot died at the hands of the very Auca Indians he was trying to reach in the jungles of Ecuador in 1956. He literally gave his life trying to spread the gospel. He truly gave what he couldn’t keep to gain an eternal inheritance he will never lose.
Another favorite Elliot quote also is especially appropriate in light of his seemingly tragic death. He once journaled, “When the time comes to die, make sure that all you have to do is die.” In other words, make sure you are living your life, always ready to go home, with no unfinished business, no unsettled accounts, no regrets. I have to believe, again, that he lived that statement out and he was ready to die when the time came.
I was reminded of that quote a few weeks back when I heard the news account of a man in Fargo, North Dakota who passed away, and the local newspaper The Forum printed his obituary. There was a photo, accompanied by just two words: “Doug died.”
It was not a misprint, nor was it a joke. It was actually what the deceased man, Douglas Ledger, had asked for. His daughter carried out his wishes, with those two simple words. When the story went viral, and news reporters from around the country called to interview her about it, she explained that her father had lived a full life, and had a great sense of humor, but that he didn’t feel the necessity to spend a lot of time and newspaper space describing the details of his life. It was his time, Doug was ready to go, and he died.
I read an article the other day about a Center for Disease Control report that there were 2,513,171 deaths in America (in 2011) from all causes. On average, 6,885 people died every day; 287 people every hour; 5 people every minute; one person every 12 seconds. Which reminds us that the clock is ticking, and one of these days, if the Lord tarries, all of us will be included among that number.
So the question is, are you ready? If you take your last breath today, do you know where you’ll spend eternity? Are your relationships in order, are you satisfied with your life, and have you been obedient to what the Lord has called you to do? When the time comes to die, make sure that all you have to do is die.
I am praying for you, as I trust you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.