If you’ve been following the news, you probably know that Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek recently died. Anyone with an ounce of compassion feels for his family. After all, losing a loved one is never easy. I have lost, too. A brother, my mother, my father-in-law, and countless friends and peers. The one thing that never changes is the finality of it all.
Death is not final in the sense that there is nothing after it. To the contrary, every human being is an eternal being. Yet death is final in the sense that, once it occurs, a person’s eternity is set. It can’t be undone. Once you and I cross over from this life to the next, that’s it. There are no do-overs.
Imagine living a full life — 80 years, let’s say. You experience a wonderful childhood. You grow up, get married, have kids, enjoy a successful career, and even find the joy of grandchildren more than your heart can hold. Then, with or without warning, you die. Suddenly, there are no more thoughts of your 80 years on earth. There is only the realization that eternity has begun.
It’s All True
I don’t know anything about Alex Trebek’s spiritual state at the time he died. Likewise, I do not know what my mother’s spiritual state was when she died. But I know this one thing for sure: both Mr. Trebek and my mother now know — beyond all shadow of doubt — that the gospel message is true. They know beyond all doubt that God is who is says he is; that Jesus truly is Messiah.
That’s the cold, hard reality of physical death. Death is not only the great equalizer, it is also the great separator. It separates the sheep from the goats; the saved from the lost; those who submitted to the truth of Christ in this life from those who rejected it. And like physical death itself, the separation cannot be undone.
It Happens to All of Us
I admit that I don’t grieve physical death in the same way most people do. My tears are few; my memories many. I see physical death as one step in the process of life — differing little from birth, physical maturity, and aging. And yet…there is that line of finality that, once crossed, can not be retreated from.
King Solomon wrote about this very fact in Ecclesiastes. The finality of his words echo in my mind whenever I hear of someone’s passing:
“I said in my heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts; even one thing befalls them: as the one dies, so dies the other; yes, they have all one breath; so that a man has no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. ~ Ecc. 3:18-20
Physical death is an event that all of us will experience. It is inevitable. When it happens, the truth of sin and salvation becomes self-evident to the person in question. Like the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, none of us will be able to change our eternal state after crossing that line. None of us.
Are you ready for death? I am. My eternity will be with the LORD in glory. Not because I deserve it or worked hard to earn it. Glory is my destiny because Jesus paid the price of my sin with his own blood. Understand that he is the way, the truth, and the life. No one gets to glory without him.
If you choose to reject the truth of sin, salvation, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, that’s your call. God will not force himself on you. Just remember this one thing: you will be alive one moment and dead the next. You will know the truth, fully and unequivocally, at that moment you die. But it will be too late for the truth to make you free.
There is but a breath separating you from eternity. Will your next breath be your last? Only the LORD himself knows.