Summary: This world is coming to an end. Our journey with the Lord Jesus is coming to a conclusion and reward. The Scriptures show us that those who have gone on before us are waiting at the Finish Line to welcome us home, where we can all share our stories of how Jesus used us for His glory.
As I write this, two well-known personalities in the area of music and opinion have passed away within the span of a couple of hours. The Christian singer Carman, who was popular in the 1980's through the early 2000's , was known for songs such as "Addicted to Jesus", "The Champion", "Who's in the House?", "America Again", and the Western themed "Satan, Bite the Dust!". He was noted for giving numerous concerts around the country and the world, often at no cost because he wanted as many people as possible to hear not just his music, but the Gospel message. He had undergone a series of treatments for pancreatic and other forms of cancer over the years, but it was complications from a surgery that took him home to be with his LORD on February 16, 2021. Not two hours later, the news came that radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh had succumbed to the terminal lung cancer he had been fighting with for over a year, with his wife by his side. His 2020 year end broadcast was a combination of gratitude to his fans, love for his family, and a testimony of faith in the LORD amidst the pain and treatments. He told of his decision to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior some time before that, no doubt with the help and prayers of his younger brother David, an attorney and author of four books on the life and work of Jesus that became best-sellers.
These two men from different backgrounds, interests, and talents each made a difference in the lives of people who were lost spiritually and isolated by ideology. Carman and Rush were used by God to show in His own way and time that He cared for His people and was involved in the affairs of the nation and the world and would bring everything to a conclusion according to His will, plan, and glory. This is true of not just these two personalities, but for anyone who surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ and His direction for them. Men, women, and children over the decades, centuries, and millennia have bowed the knee in the service of the King and have worked in a variety of areas such as teaching, preaching, building, inventing, laboring, healing through medicine and therapies, taking care of a household, caring for the poor, fighting wars and keeping the peace, leading nations and armies, writing, evangelizing, and even doing what would be seen by some as menial, like mopping floors and cleaning commodes for the glory of the LORD in a school building, office, church, hospital, of facility. Some serve where the aged and infirmed are cared for by gentle souls who could be making more money somewhere else, but find that keeping a lonely senior adult company in the nighttime hours is far more valuable to them than the riches of society. The attendant in the animal shelter who lovingly cares for the least of God's creation may see nothing more than a wagging tail or soft purr in appreciation for what they do, yet will smile in quiet joy when one of these precious animals finds a new home, knowing that the same God who watches over them also feeds the birds of the air, just as Jesus said (Matthew 6:25-26).
Many Christians get to live long, fulfilled lives where they may see the fruit of their labors as God decrees. They may live long enough to see future generations surrender their lives to the service of the King of Kings because of the model of love, devotion, and service they presented before friends and family without pretense or deceit. Their lives and service were honest and righteous before the LORD and they had nothing for which to be ashamed. They went to their deaths with full confidence that when they awoke from taking their final breath, the first One they saw was none other than Jesus Himself and those whom had been touched by this faithful servant's work. Others, however, saw the specter of martyrdom come over them and their family as hostile tribes, armies, or governments came and put them under arrest, where they were imprisoned, tortured, and then were killed in one of several barbaric ways. The history of the early church runs red with the blood of the martyrs who laid their lives down for the sake of the Gospel. The apostles themselves all died as martyrs through hanging, stoning, being flayed with knives, shot with arrows, run through with spears, crucifixion, and beheading. It definitely was not their best life now, but their eternal home outshined anything this world offered. The twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have seen more Christians being killed and persecuted for their faith than in the previous centuries, and until Jesus returns, I am certain that the body count is going to continue to rise worldwide and will certainly occur here in America. It is just a matter of time.