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The Only Way to Go

People sometimes die in strange places and strange ways. One man told about a friend who saved all his life to buy a cemetery plot. Then he took a cruise and was lost at sea! All kidding aside, people sometimes die in unusual or at least unexpected ways. Millions world-wide know Jack Daniel lived his life as a distiller of whiskey in the little town of Lynchburg, Tennessee. Fewer know how the famous whiskey-maker died. He kicked a safe at work one morning when he couldn't remember the combination, injuring a toe. Blood poisoning allegedly set up in said toe and spread to the rest of his body, killing him a few days later. His last words were reportedly, "One last drink, please." Daniel died thinking about and desiring that which largely occupied his heart, mind and life while he lived. What a way to go. Should we be surprised that one of the world's most famous whiskey makers died with whiskey on his mind?

How do you want to go? Billions of deaths over the ages remind us of the inescapable fact that unless Jesus returns during our lifetime, the time will come when each of us will have to go (Hebrews 9:27). Woody Allen spoke for many when he said, "It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens." I'm afraid we all will. The only issue to be settled is what we will be doing when the moment comes. Much more important than how and where and when we will die is the question of how are we living? What occupies our hearts and minds from day to day? Hebrews 11:20-22 tells about three people who died with God and His will firmly fixed in their minds — By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones" (Hebrews 11:20-22). We don't have space here to analyze this text or the lives of these Hebrew patriarchs as recorded in the book of Genesis. Suffice it to say they all died the way they lived — with faith and trust that God would one day make good on His promises! They died with hope in their hearts and their eyes still firmly fixed on the land of Canaan, the land God had promised would one day be the home of His people. Read it again. They died blessing other people and worshiping God and looking forward to good things they could only see by faith. In New Testament parlance, they died with faith in their hearts and Heaven on their minds. Because we face eternity, that's the only way to go! How do you want to go? Will you die with faith in your heart and Heaven on your mind? Are you living that way each day? Are you listening?  "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory- (Colossians 3:1-4).

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ