Tuesday, July 5, 2016
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Kobe Bryant decided to set off some fireworks for his final game in the NBA. Sixty points carried his team to an unlikely and dramatic victory! That's a pretty good way to wrap up 20 seasons and five championship rings! Kobe Bryant finished well, and he went out in a blaze of glory.
But so is my friend Kenny. Not on a basketball court. It was in his hospice room. The doctors said he didn't have much more time; walking as Psalm 23:4, our word for today from the Word of God says, "through the valley of the shadow of death." It actually begins that Psalm by saying, "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. Yes, though I walk through the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me."
His wife, Mary Ann, spoke to me about his painful journey with a strength that could only be described as supernatural. She told me, "Ron, for a long time, one of my greatest fears has been living life without Kenny." I mean, anybody who knows them knows they have had a very true and very obvious lifetime love.
But her report was amazing. She said, "Ron, we're doing so well. God has moved in amazing ways. Kenny is calm and comfortable. I feel so much peace and calm. He's ready to go with Jesus and I'm ready to let him go." Then she summed it all up in one word – miracles. As the thing she had feared so long was now looming as a reality, a peace that was not of this earth flooded into her soul. And suddenly, she had grace to say, "He's Yours, Lord. I release him to You." Miracle!
But what she told me about Kenny was what really wiped me out. She described the scene in his room: grandchildren, children singing and talking and laughing. And the hospice staff said they had seldom, if ever, seen anyone facing death with this kind of peace, confidence and even joy. Then describing what his grandchildren were experiencing, she made this very moving observation: "He's teaching them how to die." That's legacy.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Ending Well."
I had a friend who said, "Ron, if people who don't know Jesus want to know the difference He makes, let them come to our funerals." Yes, or our hospice room. Kenny and Mary Ann would tell you in a word why death had lost its dread – Jesus. Years ago, they heard how the Son of God bled out His life so we could live forever, because there was no other way we could. The Bible sure makes that clear. It says in Isaiah 59:2, "Your sins have cut you off from God." Sinless God. Perfect heaven. Sinful us.
Kenny and Mary Ann told me that they had been religious folks. And they thought that would get them to heaven like most folks do. Until they realized that no amount of goodness could pay the death penalty that sin requires. Somebody had to die. Somebody did. In the Bible's words, "Christ died for us sinners; taking our hell so we could go to His heaven." (Romans 5:6).
So when Jesus walked out of His grave that Easter morning, He guaranteed eternal life to everybody who belongs to Him. And my friend, Kenny? Yep, someone who belongs to Jesus forever. And he did in the face of death what he did with his whole life – radiating a living Christ.
Today if you'd like to have that assurance that when you die you are ready for eternity whenever it comes, however it comes, your sins are forgiven, they've been erased from God's Book, nothing would keep you out of heaven, you need today to say, "Jesus, you are the Savior of the world. But beginning today, you are my Savior from my sin. I'm putting all my trust in You."
I would love to help you get there and make sure you got it done. That's what our website is for. I invite you to go there and meet me there – ANewStory.com.
My friend was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. But as it says in the Psalm, he "feared no evil" because, "You are with me" (Psalm 23:4). Doing life with Jesus. Doing eternity with Jesus. That's what I call going out in a blaze of glory.