My friend, Jerry, died this week. He was 79. He had been seriously ill for awhile and having been recently moved into hospice care, Lisa and I visited him one last time. Fortuneatly, Jerry was awake when we walked into the room. Although incredibly weak now, with labored breathing, Jerry smiled as best he could and offered us a warm, sweet greeting. He knew it would not be long until he closed his eyes in death. It was so good to see my friend. We spoke of things past-- how he played hockey and how he rose early for 20 straight years preparing donuts for a local shop. We reminisced fondly of his first Sunday morning visit to our Vineyard Church a few years back and how Jerry knew immediately that he had at last found a home. It was a joy watching Jerry grow in the Lord over the months and years as he served, made good friends, and developed a closer walk with Jesus.
As a culture, we do not know how to face death very well. I think most Americans are afraid of growing old and dying. We don't talk about end-of-life issues much, choosing rather to fool ourselves into thinking we will somehow live forever. But Jerry was not that way in the final week of his life. He was ready to die. Why? Because Jerry Levy knew that when he closed his eyes for the last time, he would open them again to see Jesus welcoming him into the Kingdom of God. In talking with Jerry and praying with him this week, it struck me deeply that he was walking in a kind of faith that many believers sing about in worship yet secretly do not possess. His was a quiet faith which shouted to all who knew him that Jesus is real and He would usher His son, Jerry home. No fear. No complaining about cancer or a life over too soon. Jerry trusted in the goodness of God and he now longed to be with Him. That's the kind of faith I want to have as I continue to walk with Jesus. I want to enjoy my life, love my family and friends, do good and love mercy....and I want to die in such a way as to glorify Christ. Just like my friend did. The Bible says this about how God sees the end of a believer's life, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." (Psalm 116:15) Truly, Jerry Levy finished well in the Lord as he walked out a precious faith.