Tragedy or Triumph?

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

— Philippians 1:21

If you knew that you were going to die today, how would you feel until the moment arrived? Death can be either the most frightening or the most delightful prospect to an individual. How a person feels about death depends totally on his or her relationship with the Lord. Consider how one man changed his perspective on facing “the king of terrors” as his relationship with Jesus Christ changed.

John Wesley was an unbeliever and a clergyman all at the same time, at least in the early part of his ministry. He knew all the facts about Christianity, but he hadn’t developed an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. During this time of unrecognized spiritual confusion, Wesley was sailing on a ship bound for England when a great storm overwhelmed the vessel, ripping its sails to shreds and threatening to destroy the masts. Wesley was terrified. As the wind howled in the darkness of that night, Wesley felt certain he’d soon face his Maker. He knew that he was getting ready to leap into the darkness of death, and he didn’t know where he would land.

Suddenly, over the howling of the winds, Wesley heard the sound of singing. He looked to see where it came from, and he saw three men holding onto the other side of the ship, singing praises to God. Wesley staggered over to these men and shouted against the wind, “How can you sing? You are going to die this very hour!” To his astonishment they replied, “If the ship goes down, then we go up to meet the Lord!”

“How can they know that?” thought Wesley. Only later, in London, would he discover their secret—the secret of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

Dying means totally different things to the saved and the unsaved. At death, the unbeliever is ripped from the arms of the world and cast into the fires of Hell. But the Christian leaves this world to rest eternally in the everlasting arms of Jesus, who has made our entrance into Heaven possible by His death.

What’s your attitude toward death? If you feel fear, you needn’t. You can trust your life to Jesus Christ, accepting His free gift of grace, your passage to Heaven when this life ends. And as you receive that gift, you can experience the joyful anticipation of an even greater life to come when this life ceases.

“The best of all is, God is with us. Farewell! Farewell!”
John Wesley’s Dying Words