Saturday, July 21 , 2018, 12:39 am | Overcast 65º


Jim Langley: Dealing with Death and Dying

I had the distinct pleasure of sharing the podium with J. Sidlow Baxter years ago. Baxter is the most godly man I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. I remember purchasing one of his many books during that CBMC retreat entitled The Other Side of Death published in 1987.

I ended up lending that book to a friend, who returned it to me many years later. That book which was an exhaustive study on “heaven, hell and life beyond death” inspired me to recommit to writing about spiritual matters and life's uncertainty.

Death is inevitable, and dying is simply part of the process. It’s a worthy topic, since we will all experience it one day and a worthy topic for discussion.

As a life and health insurance professional, I have a pretty good grasp of morbidity and mortality tables. In short, it’s quite possible for one of my many clients to have one or more long-term disabling events during their lifetime, but eventually we all must face death.

Over the past 33 years, I’ve handled well over a hundred life insurance claims. During that same period, I’ve handled several dozen disability and long-term care insurance claims. We never know when or how catastrophes will strike, but inevitably they do. Yes, death is certain!

It’s only been a few years since my parents passed into Glory. My Mom preceded my Dad by seven months and I remember how upset Dad was that God took Mom before him. He confided that he married a woman eight years younger so she would be able to take care of him in his later years.

Then again, he never expected to live to see his 100th birthday! During the last few years of his life, Dad could hardly see and hear, but he continued to exercise and remain physically strong, not wanting to let go.

A few months before his 101st birthday he finally started letting go. I remember our conversation on that final three-day trip to Texas, and making one more attempt at sharing the love of Christ with him. After visiting my Mom’s graveside at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, my Dad was captive in the 20-minute car ride home. He didn’t want to hear my final plea, but he did listen!

Baxter lived to be 96, and I can still see him walking around Santa Barbara dressed to a T with his plaid jacket, dress shirt and bow tie. He was a true gentleman who loved life and loved God with all his heart, mind and soul.

I look forward to seeing him in Paradise one of these days. I’m sure he and Jesus have had many precious conversations over the years since he entered Heaven. After all, that’s just what he did while here on this earth.

Just as Paul shared in Philippians 1:21-24, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in this body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”

Baxter had a wonderful grasp on Reality.

Like Paul, I, too, am looking forward to the day when I’ll meet Jesus face-to-face, yet I love life and the daily encounters my Lord brings across my path. Genetically, I may reach that century mark just like my Dad, which is fine if that’s God’s will. If He takes me before I reach that milestone, that, too, is well with my soul.

And, I do look forward to being reunited with my parents and many others one day in Heaven. Yes, my Dad did make that commitment to Christ just minutes before he died. I thank my cousin, Mark Schraub, for sharing the account with me and being there before Dad’s death to offer him one last opportunity before he took his last breath.

Life is short and we have no way of knowing what lies ahead. You or a loved one may already be dealing with a serious illness, but we don’t have to go through adversity on our own. Certainly, friends and family can relieve some of the stress, but I’ve found the greatest strength comes from a personal relationship with Christ.

There’s no time like the present to call upon Him. Let Him help you deal with the inevitable process we must all go through here on earth. Trust Him in your time of need.

Passages to Ponder

» Job 42:1-6

» Luke 23:39-43

» John 14:1-6

» 1 Corinthians 13:9-13

— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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