“Do you fear death? This is not the typical question you get at a business lunch. The Sales Manager of one of our key material suppliers was visiting our facilities today. They are a major supplier and I have had the privilege to get to know him at industry best practices conference where he also has joined me at a small breakfast that I host to discuss the best practices in leading your company according to biblical principals with other industry leaders.
Today, I joined he and my team for lunch. After they asked me to give thanks for the meal, the conversation jumped to current events and catching up on family. We all have aging parents and the question was asked, “Do you fear death?” Quickly all eyes turned to me and the question was reframed, “Seriously, I am afraid of dying. Don’t you all want to hear what Jeff has to say about death?” Not prepared, I stumbled and fumbled around and came up with a few comments about fear of the unknown, missing loved ones, watching my grandfather in his last few weeks embrace the inevitable with grace and confidence, and my own confidence in the Scriptures. (Which I could not come up with off the top of my head) I thought about my clumsy response, reflected on my true convictions, and sent an email to clarify. This is what I wrote:
I did not do a good job explaining my reasoning for why I am not afraid to die. First let me admit that the other side of death is mostly unknown and would cause anxiety for everyone. The feeling of loss in leaving family, friends and world that we know behind is a significant factor.
BUT, the Holy Spirit has revealed to me in a real and supernatural way a faith, knowledge, and experience to firmly trust in Him for all aspects of my life, my health, my family, my career, His provision for my needs, and my confidence in His providence in the midst of suffering. The Word of God given to us in the Bible is trustworthy. In the end, as death approaches, I believe that He is faithful to His Word and that I will be judged, but by the grace provided to me through the death and resurrection of Jesus, I will live with Him for eternity. He has been faithful to me for my entire life, how could I not fully trust Him with my future and, therefore, I am confident of the promises given to us in Scripture and do not fear death.
P.S. My faith has been tested as I faced a brain tumor, a pulmonary embolism, and melanoma that all brought me to recognize the brevity of life and the realization that death is immanent. There was a sense of regret or sorrow of what I would miss or responsibilities I would not be able to fulfill, but there was no fear. The emotion that was present was an overwhelming desire to communicate my love to my family. Similar to those on the doomed flights on 9/11 when the planes were going down, the priority for those destined to die on those flights was to call their loved-ones to tell them they loved them. Fear was overwhelmed by love.
Thanks for challenging me to think through this. A few Scriptures to contemplate. 1 Corinthians 15:51-57, Ecclesiastes 12:7, Luke 23:43, John 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 4:14, Matthew 10:28, John 11:25-26, Hebrews 9:27, Revelation 14:13, Romans 8:38-39, 1 Corinthians 15:22, John 11:25, John 5:24, John 14:6, Matthew 11:28, Romans 8:17,
Grace and peace,