Two Sundays ago, while I was teaching the Junior Worship class, my Ghanaian pupil Manuela approached Tito Roland and me and asked us to pray for her dad. He was diagnosed with the big C and had been in the hospital for weeks. I knew him personally. He helped me get into the UN before, where he works as the Security Adviser to the Philippines. He was a man of authority even in church where he was leading small groups, prayer meetings and vesper services. I only came to know of his condition that Sunday and I tried to comfort Manuela telling her we will pray for her dad and assured her that whatever happens, God is in control. I cannot give her any assurance other than that. All I knew and all faith in His Word told me was that God has everything planned and has everything covered.
The next day, coming home from work, I received a text message saying that Manuela’s father had passed away that 4:00 in the afternoon. It shocked me because I did not know his condition was already that serious. The first thing I thought of was Manuela and her four other siblings, the youngest being four.
It has been 2 weeks since his demise, and the family has gone back to Ghana. During the memorial at IBC, some dignitaries came, along with Mr. Peter’s UNDP colleagues, and mostly people from our church. It was a beautiful memorial filled with God’s promises of eternal security and hope. But I could not stop my tears from falling from the beginning until the end of the memorial. It was not only because the songs really moved me or because I could see the kids 6 pews from where I was sitting. It wasn’t entirely grief over his loss, for deep down I knew he was in Heaven with Jesus. Mostly it was grief for his children, for the family he left behind, the kids who will miss their father and will grow up without one.
The other night, while I was reading Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith, my heart throbbed rather abnormally, sending me into an almost-panic mode. I had shortness of breath, like gasping for air, and I could feel my heart pounding like crazy. I thought it was just in the way I laid in bed so I stood up, felt my heartbeat, and tried to inhale and exhale slowly. Seconds later, I was fine.
Maybe it was just an isolated case of heart palpitation that happens to anyone, but that event and the passing of Mr. Diawouh really got me thinking: What if this were my last night on Earth? What if God suddenly took my life, because He can and He doesn’t even need to explain Himself away? (Not saying that He is a sadistic life-taker, but just that it was my appointed time.) Some people have died that way, with their life still ahead of them, just like Peter Diawouh. Some people have yet to start a career, a family, a name, a legacy, and just like that, everything is cut short. And then we are left with the mother of all questions: Why, Lord? Why?
So I thought about it tonight and decided to write on it should this be my last night on Earth.
I’m not afraid of death – if death was only just that: dying. But death is also living, especially for the Christian. I know I’m not ready to die yet, but the converse may also be true: Am I ready to live eternally? Am I ready to face God and tell him what my life has been?
For one, I haven’t fully served God. My life here has been a constant battle of what He wants and what I want. If I’m going to meet God anytime soon, I want to be prepared. I want to have shared Him to my friends who do not know him yet. I want to have discipled more, to have witnessed more, to have loved more. Come to think of it, we can not truly be prepared. God has his own timetable and we can plan and move everyday as we like, but in the end, everything still belongs to Him.
If this were my last day on Earth, then I have a lot of unfinished business to do. I have yet to make amends with people I’ve offended and people who have been hurt because of me. If I unearth old memories, there might be people I still have to forgive. As for lost friendships, I have yet to reconnect with them, or deepen the ones I have at present. Yes, these are the things that will matter to me in the end: relationships, people, testimonies.
I’d like to write about this so that when I die and people come across my blog, they will know I’ve given thought about death and in a way, was not totally unprepared. “For Death is the destiny of every man, the living should take it to heart.” Ecclesiastes 7:2
Just last Friday during my growth group, the topic of grace kept coming up in the discussion. If there is one thing I am most thankful to God, it is His grace that allows me to breathe, His very grace that gives me life. God knows when my life will end, and obviously I’ll be kept in the dark about that. I don’t know when that is: full age or in my youth, married or single (Oh please God at least let me have a boyfriend), childless or with kids, successful or just getting there. I don’t know.
But right now, I’m grateful that I am alive. I am grateful that there is eternal assurance for those who believe in His Son. I am grateful that He is preparing a place for the redeemed. And I am thankful that I can write this and not be fearful.
I want to live a life well-spent, a life fully invested on things eternal.