If I Should Die
What is faster than your fastest internet, yet is absolutely free?
Ponderings, No.2 (March 20, 2017)
Robert V. Rakestraw
The question came to me recently: Which one statement or expression best sums up the deepest longing of my heart at this time in my life? I had just received news that a friend and relative—one I had known for decades—had died. He had been a faithful servant of Christ and now was at home, after having suffered much in the body for years. His death prompted the above question.
If I should die soon, and my wife or someone else who knows me well were to be asked the above question about me, what would be the most accurate answer? How would they state the greatest passion of my heart during the past several years? If I could see and hear them from my home in glory, what would I like them to say?
I hope the person would answer as follows, or in similar words. “His deepest, increasingly urgent, longing in recent years was to see people everywhere, both believers and nonbelievers, come closer to God.”
This summation does not come out of heavy thinking on my part. It has simply been emerging more and more as I have been pondering the greatest needs of men and women, boys and girls, from the ends of the street to the ends of the earth. All I have done is recognize this growing passion within me and put it into words. It seems as though all of my life, especially since I became a believer at age nineteen, has been leading up to this “blessed burden,” as I think of it.
For many years I have had a growing awareness of an incredible truth written by James, the brother of Jesus: “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (4:8; see also Lam. 3:25-26, 57-58). The spiritual power in this God-breathed revelation is impossible to overstate. The words mean what they say! I believe them not only because they are part of the written word of God, but because I have experienced them profoundly over the years and have seen them work mightily in others.
To “come near to God,” according to the context in James 4, involves more than saying words to God. It definitely does mean this (whether out loud or inwardly), but it also means to come to God with an attitude of submission and repentance, with pure motives and the intention to follow his ways as we know them.
I am convinced that, whether a person is a believer in Christ or not, that individual will be genuinely helped by coming nearer to God, since God will come nearer to her or him with purposes of forgiveness, redemption, restoration, guidance, comfort, empowerment, and blessing. All I long to do is my part, whatever that may be, in motivating and directing people in their quest for genuine meaning—happiness, purpose, contentment—in life and assurance of their eternal salvation.
I need to amplify the above by lifting out one statement: I have experienced the truth of James 4:8 profoundly over the years of my life! This has been increasingly so. Even when I have had times of drifting from close fellowship with God, perhaps for a day or several days, I was struck by how near the Lord was the instant I called out to him in repentance (confessing my drifting and other matters) and trust, with a sincere willingness to hear and follow his voice. The connection, most of the time, is even faster than that of the fastest internet. I just know he is there – where he has been all along!
More and more I find that intimacy with God—Father, Son and Spirit—is my most cherished “possession” (asset, benefit, inheritance, fountain of blessing). And it is from the cultivation of this intimacy that my longing for others to come near to God grows. What I have come to experience with and in God I cannot keep to myself. If I should die soon—or not so soon—I would like this sentiment to resonate with those I must leave behind for a time.
Here is a final word related to James 4:8; there is sadness within me as I add this piece. Here is a quotation from the Lord Almighty, given to his dear chosen people about 2500 years ago, after they had departed from him and thereby brought upon themselves terrible desolation, vast dispersion, and ceaseless suffering – to this present day. The verse is in Zechariah, the next to last book of the Old Testament. “When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen” (7:13).
This item may be found, along with other articles and essays, on Dr. Rakestraw’s website/blog, gracequestministries.org., where you may sign up to receive automatically postings such as this at no cost, and where you may order his books GraceQuest and Heart Cries. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.