(A letter written to the Editor of the Reader’s Digest)
I am writing with reference to the final section of the article entitled “Happiness – how to have it now” in the current issue of Reader’s Digest, relating to the prospect of facing one’s own death. I would like to say that it is possible to face death, not only with composure, but also with great joy.
When I was a boy I knew a young woman, 23 years of age, who, by the grace of God, enjoyed much spiritual blessing in the final weeks of her life. Her pastor and his wife visited her a few days before she passed away (or, as I would rather say, “fell asleep in Jesus”) and he wrote as follows: “We shall never forget that night and the solemnity of the scene. The sweetness of her dying language, her absolute weanedness from all earthly things, and the loveliness of her countenance as she seemed to look right into heaven, and appeared to be embracing a precious Redeemer in her arms, cannot possibly be conveyed on paper. To her it was indeed ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’ [an expression from the Bible], and to us it seemed a sacred room, hallowed with the atmosphere of heaven.”
She said to her husband: “You have been a good, loving husband to me, but I am going to be a partaker of much better, greater and endless love.” Many times she said, “I am so happy, extremely happy”. Before she breathed her last and fell asleep in Jesus, she spoke as follows: “This has been a happy day. It’s marvellous to feel a Father’s love and affection. I feel so happy; I don’t think it will be much longer now. I am longing to be in heaven. . . .”
Hers was not an isolated case. I knew of a senior citizen who when his wife asked him during his final illness, “Wouldn’t you like to get better and stay with us a little longer?”, replied: “No, not for the world and all that’s in the world, if it were mine to give, would I stay here. I want to go home to my heavenly home, where there is no sin and sorrow and no more pain, where I shall see my Saviour.” To one of his sons he said, “You have a nice home but that is nothing compared to the one I am going to. Oh how I long to be there!”
He was able feelingly to sing these lines of a hymn –
“Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on His gentle breast,
There by His love o’ershaded,
Sweetly my soul shall rest”
– with a confident emphasis on the last line.
I would like to conclude by expressing the wish that you, many of your staff and of your readers would, by the grace of God, know such wonderful blessing and happiness. Certainly I could wish nothing better.
[Taken with permission from the current issue of the Gospel Magazine, July – August 2006]
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