“My Dear Sarah, Knowing that we have to die we ought to live to be prepared to die well, and then, let death come when it may, we will meet it without alarm, and be ready to say, ‘The Lord’s will be done.'”
~ President Andrew Jackson (in a letter to his daughter-in-law)
[ p. 387, Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 1822-1832, by Robert V. Remini]
There is a contemporary movement that uses the phrase “to die well.” This movement has to do mostly with cancer patients who have been given a “death sentence.” They are dying of cancer, there is nothing much medicine can do for them, and they are encouraged or motivated to finish life as well as possible. Among publications of this movement, I’ve read a recurring refrain of “to live well is to die well.” That’s the gist of it, I think.
In that context, a few years ago Elizabeth Edwards came to this realization herself with a cancer that did indeed end her earthly life. She said, “We are ALL going to die – I just have a little bit more information!”
I don’t know much about Elizabeth Edwards. From what little I know about her, I certainly wouldn’t have expected such a positive-sounding statement. Whether she knew it or not, Mrs. Edwards actually repeated a biblical truth.
Hebrews 9:27 (CEV) reads, “We die only once, and then we are judged.”
As believers, we should be living in light of eternity every moment of our lives. We know this life is not all there is. In fact, we know that this life is less than a drop in the proverbial bucket of what lies ahead of us in eternity. Time is fleeting…but a vapor.
We live well in order to die well. We die well daily by dying to self and by faith living to Christ, as in Galatians 2:20. Thus, I believe this is a valid question to ask ourselves daily:
“Am I living well to die well?”
I don’t believe this to be morbid or tasteless. For those of us who profess to have obtained eternal life by a God-man sacrifice on a bloody cross, and who profess to follow this resurrected God-man, Jesus Christ, who said, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27 NIV), this question simply cannot be morbid or tasteless.
It is in fact a taste of heaven and a sip of the water of life. May we drink deeply of life-giving death today and every day until we breathe our last of this vaporous life on earth.
Grace and peace to you.