How Your Life - And Your Death - Can Really Count
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It was one of those unexpected phone calls that leaves you stunned. Our friend Curt, one of the most experienced private pilots we know, had crashed two hours earlier. He was landing on a grass strip near his home, a strip where he's landed hundreds of times. This time he somehow went into a skid that propelled his plane right into a tree. The plane caught fire and then it exploded and our friend Curt was in heaven. As a beloved leader in our community, his death rocked a lot of people, including me. Because of a collapsed wheel, he had been in a crash 14 months earlier actually; one which should have been fatal but from which he escaped with serious but survivable injuries. I can't tell you how grateful I am that he didn't die then. See, something very important happened between those two crashes.
It was my privilege to be asked by Curt's wife to talk about his faith at the funeral and the powerful changes that had taken place since that first crash. The word for that day from the Word of God is our word today. It's like a scale on which you can weigh the significance of your life and what you're living it for. Philippians 1:20-21 - "I eagerly expect and hope that...Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain."
Now, we all need to honestly fill in the blank, "For to me to live is _________." See, the true answer - not the spiritual answer - might be, "For me to live is my business, my sports, my home, my kids, my success, my family, my friends, my education, my dream. Or maybe you should just put the name of the most important person in your life in that blank to fill it in honestly. Here's the problem: if you're living for any of those things, to die is to lose it all. It's only when for you "to live is Christ" that to die will be gain.
When our friend Curt went down the first time, I'm not sure what he was living for. He was always a good man, but I think he would have said he wasn't always God's man. But after that crash he said, "God spared me for a reason." And he concluded that one major reason was for him to live for Christ in such a way that the people he cared about, the people who looked to him, would want his Jesus so they could be in heaven with him someday. He began to live in such a way that "Christ would be exalted" by his life. And because he did, Christ was really exalted by his death.
In the past months, Curt had boldly told so many people in his large circle of influence about the Christ who died for him and for them. So it was only logical that his funeral would do the same thing - to give those he had touched the opportunity he had had - a wakeup call from a plane crash that would bring them into a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. But if you haven't lived to show Christ to people, your death really can't lift Him up. The death of a man or a woman who has really lived passionately for Christ can have such incredible meaning - helping others be in heaven with you. But a life not lived for Christ just can't have that kind of meaning. Death destroys every reason for living but one - living for Jesus and what matters to Him.
If Curt were here today, I believe he would tell you, "Don't wait to surrender your life and your influence to Jesus Christ. You never know how many days you have left to make your life count for something that will last forever." And, for sure, Jesus would tell you that. In fact, I believe He is - right now. "Someday" isn't soon enough to give everything you've got to Jesus. It needs to be this day.
Distributed by Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.