“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! We know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 3:1, 2; 5:13).
I have sat by the bedside of a number of dying people who lived their lives by faith in Jesus Christ. Their belief in Christ, in his gift of salvation, in the hope of eternal life through the resurrected Christ and the grace of God, was strongly demonstrated in the way they lived their lives. They knew their salvation and hope were by grace, not by works. Yet as death was approaching, a number of these children of God asked, “Did I live a good enough life to enter into heaven?” Each time I have sought to encourage with God’s promise of grace. I have reminded them of their faith in Christ by which they stand in the grace of God and the hope of Christ.
Now my godly mother realizes death is near. How near is in the Father’s hands. Yet her body and spirit are so very weak and tired. Her prayer is for Jesus to call her home. She and my father taught me about God’s grace and what it means to have faith in Christ. Now she asks, “Did I live a good enough life to enter into heaven? Am I worthy?” Her mind is beyond the point of being able to reason and remember. So even though she agrees with me when I encourage her, soon she questions again. I am saddened by the anxiety this causes her. My prayer is that the Spirit will break through the impact upon her mind by her age, her body’s weakness and tiredness. I pray for Him to be able to break through and give her peace in the hope she has in Christ.
As I seek to comfort my mother, as I have sought to comfort others in my years of ministry, I am caused to reflect on my own faith. The apostle John wrote his short letter so that I, and you, might know that I have eternal life. Know, not only the knowledge of a fact taught in Scripture, but the acceptance of the certainty of the reality of my salvation and the eternal life I have in Jesus Christ. I know that I have eternal life. Yet I ask myself, knowing my death is near, will I face death with the confidence of the knowledge of my salvation in Christ?
“Everyone who has this hope in him (Christ) purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). The child of God seeks to purify himself, not in order to be saved, but because he is saved, he does have hope in Christ. Confident of God’s grace in Christ, of her hope of eternal life, my mother has lived her life seeking to purify herself, as Christ is pure. As a woman, as a wife, and as a mother, she has sought to imitate Christ in her heart, her words, and her actions. Lord, I pray that I have, and that I will, imitate my mother as she has imitated Christ. Lord, I pray that her heart and spirit will now be comforted by remembering how she has lived for you.