Contributed by Vic Kohring
The older I get, the more my mortality becomes evident and the more I realize how fleeting life is. Having lost close family members suddenly and unexpectedly in recent years, I've faced head-on the stark, brutal reality of how fragile life is.
As the years have passed and seem to accelerate, I've known a great number of folks from my youth through adulthood and from my work in the private sector and legislature who are no longer with us. There have been literally hundreds. I frequently read about people I know in the obituaries, reminding me that any of us can go anytime. Despite my good health, I count myself fortunate to still be on this earth after 58 years.
As a young man, I had a naive sense of immortality and felt death was something a very long way off and that I was largely immune to it, being healthy with no infirmities. I was convinced it was a challenge I wouldn't have to face for decades down the road and that dying was something that happened to others, not me. So I gave it little thought and didn't worry about it.
But as the years have passed, I gradually lost friends and family to illness, disease, accidents and simply old age. So it has hit very close to home. And the older I become, the more death seems to occur with greater frequency. I've even had several close calls myself through the years. A car accident on a Seattle freeway. Slipping on rocks and plunging into a river while fishing. Breaking through lake ice on a trap line. Gun shots during a political campaign, and a slew of death threats by political opponents as a legislator.
God says in Hebrews 9:27 that "It is appointed unto men once to die." Since no one can escape this inevitable fact, we need to face reality and be prepared. I'm not talking a will or leaving behind wealth and money for survivors.
Rather, I'm talking being ready in terms of your soul and how it relates to eternity. After this life, we move on to another realm. If we've received salvation as outlined in the Bible, we will spend eternity in a much better place, free of the suffering, pain, sickness and illness so commonplace in this life.
Last fall, I attended a memorial service for longtime family friend, Leo Powell of Chugiak, who suddenly passed away in October. It was a shock as I just saw and spoke with him three months before when he was vigorous and doing well. In the blink of an eye, he was gone.
During the service, Pastor Dave Dahms spoke about the fragile nature of life and how no one knows when it will be our turn to go. Moreover, Dahms not only discussed the importance of salvation, but how important it is to let friends and loved ones know you've received God's special gift and have a covenant with Him. This knowledge will save them the grief of wondering and give them peace of mind. Pastor Dahms strongly recommended that we write down a testament to our faith to leave our loved ones, so they can see for certain that we committed ourselves to God.
Of course, verbalizing this fact and living one's life as a Christian and as a witness to our faith is powerful evidence. But giving family the assurance - in writing - that we were saved is something that will give those we leave behind great comfort. I have, in the form of declaring my faith in the pages of this paper through the months. Such a declaration is far more important than a will, life insurance or anything else of earthly value. A true act of love for those we care about.
People you value are a treasure and should not be taken for granted as we all are subject to departure from this world at any moment. God has numbered our days, so it's only a matter of time. Therefore, hold dear those still with you and let them know how much you love them before it's too late. You may never have another chance. And more important, get right with God as your future's at stake.
Vic Kohring is founder and executor of New Life Ministries in Wasilla.