One evening I was quietly considering the news concerning Covid-19 when a still small voice asked, “Are you ready to die in two weeks?” I was startled and puzzled by the question and checked off some crucial things in my life:
I am a follower of Jesus Christ, who died a sacrificial death to redeem me from my sins. He was crucified, resurrected on the third day, revealed himself to over 500, ascended into Heaven and now sits at the right hand of God. Through faith in Christ, Heaven is my destination when this life ceases.
I have a will, a trust, and a long list of who gets what.
We filed our taxes.
When the kids clean out the garage, they will often say, “What was Mother thinking when she bought this?” That is the summer task that I may or may not get to finish.
So, yes, I guess I’m ready to die if the Lord calls me.
Considering that I am “of the age” not to survive this new scourge hitting the world, it is a good question for the Holy Spirit to ask. How about you? Are you ready to die in two weeks? What does your list cover?
The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing people to look at death, some for the first time. All sorts of professionals are expressing their points of view on media sites.
Our newspaper, The Bakersfield Californian, printed an article by CSUB professor of religious studies, Dr. Stafford Betty, “Why COVID-19 doesn’t scare me to death.” He has based his assurance of an afterlife through the scientific findings of consciousness researchers and empirical data of life after death. That data “fall(s) under nine headings, each by itself a powerful argument pointing to a world beyond ours. These include deathbed visions, the near-death experience, apparitions or ghosts, the uncanny memories of children about what feels to them like a previous life, poltergeist phenomena, spirit channeling, instrumental transcommunication from the deceased, terminal lucidity among advanced Alzheimer’s victims just before death, and unwelcome intrusions by earthbound entities.”
I sat back with a deep sigh, tears springing to my eyes. In our county of one million, probably 100,000 people would read these words in one form or another. Imagine basing your eternal life on one of these ideas. Are any of the phenomena real? Perhaps, but many emanate from evil.
How can we combat or refute such claims? What is our responsibility as active Christians?
1. Be WILLING to demonstrate your faith in actions and words.
Being compassionate when people are frightened or grieving a loss speaks volumes to people’s hearts. When their hearts are open to us, our conversations can bring the truth of God’s Word. Our acts of love today will open doors tomorrow. Jill Briscoe tells us to “Just show up.”
2. Confess your sins to God, and have a clean heart before going to others.
Ask him to fill you with the Holy Spirit’s words. Pray often with specifics. Our remarks are usually insignificant; the Holy Spirit, however, has a way of penetrating even the hardest of hearts.
3. Use self-explanatory scriptures (Jn. 3:16-18; Rom 5:8) to introduce Jesus and salvation. So many people only know Jesus as a cuss word. Add a short testimony of your journey of faith.
4. Let the power of the Word work in hearts. We do not have to have all the answers.
We do not have to answer all their doubts, uncertainties, or misunderstandings. The woman at the well had questions, but Jesus steered the conversation to the core of her condition, Jn. 4:6-34.
5. Do not argue your point. I would not attempt to refute Dr. Betty’s statements. He has spent years honing his arguments, but I do not have to agree with him. Let the Holy Spirit convict the heart. Pray diligently for them.
6. Follow up if at all possible
—another act of compassion perhaps, or a message that communicates concern and care. Even a phone call in which you say, “I just wanted to hear your voice,” imparts love. Maintain contact if the person will allow it.
Just before the shelter-in-place order was issued, I was with a group of women, and I was unsure if all of them were Christians. I used the question, “Am I ready to die in two weeks?” as the springboard for a conversation around John 3:16. I added some humor before explaining the gospel. Eyes were riveted on me as I spoke, I had their attention.
With the impending reality of death, theirs’s or a loved one’s, people are open to listening. Let’s take advantage of the window of opportunity because it will close as soon as a vaccine is available to keep us from Covid-19 death.
We have the truth living inside us. Join me in encouraging and demonstrating grace amid the mess that disease has brought to our neighbors, friends, and families.
My prayer for you: Heavenly Father, give each reader unusual courage to reach out to those who do not know your son, Jesus. Give them creative ideas to reach neighbors and friends. Open the hearts of non-believers to the truth of your Word. Bring glory to yourself through our unselfish acts of kindness and grace. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Written by Mary Younger