Why is it that we don’t look forward to death? Is it because we are afraid? We look at the Apostle Paul like he is nuts when he says, to live is Christ and to die is gain? Christians should wait for death like I waited for the Poison Ivy shot the doctor would give me when I was a kid. I can remember how afraid I was going to the doctor knowing he was gonna give me a shot. I don’t think they knew about pills yet. If you had a stomach ache they would give you Pepto through a syringe.
Anyway, I remember going back to that room, agonizing because I knew he was going to give me a shot. The nurse came in the room, and she could read me like a book, so she reached down and pulled open that bottom drawer. I could hear the hallelujah chorus fire up in the background. My doctor had a drawer full of little toys in the room where he gave the shots.
The nurse would come in and pull open the drawer and tell me that I could look and decide which one I wanted, but I couldn’t have the toy until I was a big boy for the doctor and let him give me a shot without me giving him a fuss. Dr. Bolton was a very smart man. I dug around in the drawer of toys until the doctor came in and said, “young man did you find something you like?”. Yes sir, I replied. He said, “Well pull your pants down and lets get this over with and you can have your toy, and if you are real good, I may let you have two”. I jerked my pants down so fast it would’ve made your head spin. My eyes pinned to that open drawer of toys by the door. I wanted him to give me that shot. I would have even been mad if he decided not to give me a shot. I was excited with joy about getting a shot!
What happened to me? Why did my attitude about the shot change? Was it because the needle wasn’t going to sting? Was it because the medicine wasn’t going to burn like fire as it moved through my hip? Was it because I wasn’t embarrassed to pull my pants down in front of that nurse and doctor? No! No!! and NO!!! It was going to sting, it was going to burn like fire, and I didn’t even want my mother to see me with my pants down. I endured the stinging and burning. I despised the embarrassment of pulling my pants down for the joy that set before me in that open drawer. My attitude changed about the shot because my eyes were fixed on the prize in that drawer.
Paul wasn’t nuts. He just had his eyes so fixed on the prize that he saw dying as gain. Philippians 3:14- I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Do you see? The prize that Paul’s eyes were so fixed on was Christ Jesus, and so beautiful was Christ to him that he counted all things but rubbish, or KJV (dung) so that he might be found in Christ. Listen to what Paul says in Philippians 3:7-9-But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith
Do you see? This is not the rantings of a deranged mad man. These are the words of a man who opened the drawer and saw the prize, and it was so beautiful that he was willing to loose everything that he might gain it. He was like the man who found the pearl of great value in Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13:45-46. When he found the pearl he sold everything in order to buy it. Paul’s eyes were so fixed upon Christ that when he looked at all of the hardship he went through like: being beaten, shipwrecked, and homeless. He replied, the sufferings of this world are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us through Christ Jesus.
So Christian, I can tell you why you are afraid to die. I can tell you why you sing in agreement with Kenny Chesney, “everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to go right now.” It is because you have not opened up the drawer to behold that most beautiful prize. The drawer, of course, is the Word of God, and the prize is not some 50 cent plastic toy. It is Christ!! Open up His Word and look at Him, and I promise the longer you look, the more beautiful death becomes. It won’t take long before you see death as gain, and you will look at Christians who are afraid of dying and think why won’t they just open the book and look at the prize. If they would do that they would see Him, and they would know that death is only the sable coated butler that leads to Him. To the One who has holes in His hands and feet. Death is that beautiful limousine that drives us to the home of the One who loves us more than we love ourselves. WOW!!! I can’t wait. I get excited just thinking about it. Don’t you?
Now, if you don’t know Christ then you have great reason to be afraid, but it’s not dying that you need to be afraid of, it’s the wrath of God that will be poured out on the unrighteousness of men, Romans 1:18. However, I have good news. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, Acts 16:31. Those of you who are Christians, join in with creation and groan for the day when Christ will come and make all things new. Let us cry Revelation 22:20- even so now come Lord Jesus!