For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
Thank you, Ruby and Laura. I was preparing for a message that I was going to share at the church I pastor. I am always amazed how God brings to my mind different angles and ideas and illustrations to help make a truth stick. I learned a long time ago if we can’t remember what we hear, well, it can’t help us a lot. Stories help things to stick. They are like “duct tape” and I’ve learned that sermons need a lot of duct tape.
The message was about being ready…ready for whatever God has next in our lives. And for the record that can be just about anything. My wife, Judy, and I have had several God “whatevers” through the years. Some we saw coming and some we didn’t, but it was always exciting to know that God was and is on the move. Well, when I thought about being ready, I remembered part of a message that pastor John Piper taught. He was speaking in the year 2000 to a huge group of young people and he was making the point that they should make their lives matter. Well, let’s just say he did a good job.
As part of his message that day, he told the story of two women, Ruby and Laura. Ruby was a nurse who had committed her entire life to caring for the poor and broken of the world for the cause of Christ. She chose to remain single so she could devote everything…everything…to her mission. She was all in…one hundred percent. Laura was a medical doctor who took “early retirement” so she could do the same thing. She wanted to make a bigger difference, so she closed up shop and joined Ruby doing mission work.
So, they were loving God and loving people in Cameroon, East Africa. By the time the story was told, they were, well, older. Ruby was into her eighties and Laura was chasing her…she was in her very late seventies. As John Piper tells the story, these two incredible ladies were driving their jeep in the mountains when, without warning, their brakes went out and they sailed over a cliff and literally into eternity. Both ladies died in the crash and both ladies went out “with their boots on.” At a time when most would be at home rocking grandbabies, they were still making a difference.
I know, some would say what a tragedy it was that these two ladies died that day. Some would wonder why they just didn’t play it safe. I have a feeling that Ruby and Laura would tell us that they were playing it safe—because their lives were not held by circumstance or chance but rather by God. They would tell us they danced into eternity with the One they loved…Jesus and they would, of course, be right.
I find myself desiring to finish well. I know, I will not be a Ruby or a Laura, but I do want to go out “dancing” with the One who loves me most and best. I want to go out with my boots on. Sometimes we see our later years as years to relax but I wonder if we aren’t missing something. Maybe our later years are our best years to serve Him and them. Maybe our later years are intended to be the finest chapters of our lives.
Tomorrow, Judy and I will be getting on a plane and flying to Europe to minister to a group of folks from East Africa. They are in a poverty-stricken area and few, if any, know Jesus. It is going to challenging but it also is going to be a great adventure. I won’t be driving a jeep on dangerous mountain roads, so I won’t have to worry about my brakes giving out. Smile. But I do know that no matter what, our lives are in the hands of our Dearest Daddy and that is never a bad thing. In fact, there is nothing better.
Paul, the guy who wrote a chunk of the New Testament, knew about dangerous mountain roads and losing your brakes. He was an “all in” sorta guy and ultimately was martyred for his faith. Anyway, he wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” In other words, if God chose to keep him here on earth…that was good. If God chose to call him heaven…that was good too. All that mattered was living “all in” and going out “with his boots on.”
So, no matter what, if you are a Jesus person let me encourage you to go “all in” and leave the details to the One who loves you most. If you haven’t discovered Jesus yet, let me encourage you to make that your pursuit starting now. It is a journey you won’t regret. Living “all in” and being willing to go out “with your boots on” can sound daunting. Truth is, it just doesn’t sound daunting…it is. The good news is the One who loves you most will always be right by your side, whispering softly, “Go ahead, don’t worry, I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne