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In the Wake of Death, What Matters Most?

As I think about writing something, I can’t think of any normal topic that doesn’t feel trivial. I know godly living is never insignificant, but any tidbits of blogging encouragement feel weightless next to a recent nearness to death. 

On Tuesday a godly man, who is my friend’s husband, a pastor at our church, a friend and colleague of my husband, and a dad of 2 young kids, suddenly passed away. 

And I’ll tell ya what, the wake of death puts life in perspective. It prompts us to remember what matters, to remember who matters, and to realize there are many things that probably don’t. 

It’s unfortunate, however, that it often takes tragedy to bring clarity. But maybe, just maybe, lingering in some soul-deep reflection can anchor our focus. 

Whether heartache is surrounding you, or by this reminder that the future is uncertain, may we today remember what matters mostthat which remains important even when the darkest hours come.

Surely these are not the only important things, but here are 5 that are impressed upon my heart:

1. Be ready for death. 

Death will happen to us all, and it could be your time tomorrow. The death of my friend is a case in point. There was no indication of bad health or potential danger, and yet he’s no longer here. Are you ready for what will await you on the other side of death?

I’m not asking if you say you’re a Christian; I’m asking if you’re certain you’re ready to meet the Holy God of the universe. Have you truly turned from your sin and trusted in Christ alone (Acts 20:21)? Have you taken the road of self-denial to follow Jesus with your life (Mark 8:34-38)? If you can’t confidently say “Yes!” there is nothing that matters more than readying your soul!

2.  Get your loved ones ready. 

We can’t control whether our loved ones will love Jesus, but we must be sure they’re given the opportunity. If their life ends and we didn’t clearly communicate the good news of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:18-20), that will be our greatest regret. We need to speak up before it’s too late. 

The fact that my friend’s husband was a genuine follower of Christ changes everything. Death hurts, but the ultimate sting of death is gone (1 Corinthians 15:54-58).

3. Fight distractions. 

Oh, how distracted we are with silly things! How bogged down we get by issues that barely matter. But soon enough we will have heaven’s perspective, and we will wish we had it all along.

Live with eternity in mind. Pursue godliness, obey God with fervor, represent him, do the right thing, purify your motives… you’ll be forever glad you did (1 Corinthians 4:4-5, 2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, 1 Timothy 4:7-8).

And whenever death’s nearness brings you into real soul-deep reflection, think through your daily life, your schedule, your commitments, your habits, your goals — make sure you are filtering everyday choices through the perspective of eternity.

4. Love well while you can. 

Undoubtedly, when we get close to death, we hold tighter to those we love. And perhaps we should. Our relationships are gifts from the Lord (Proverbs 19:14, Psalm 127:3-4, James 1:17), and they should be appreciated as such.

Not only that, God has given us specific roles as daughters, mothers, wives, and friends, and we should fulfill those roles well.

Don’t let the petty things distance your relationships; don’t allow your phone to steal precious moments; don’t let selfishness keep you from showing real love. Make the most of the time with the people around you.

5. Be connected to real friends. 

“Woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:10). Is such wisdom ever more relevant than when mourning the death of a loved one? Before a massive trial strikes you, (and it will strike us all) make sure you have real friends that will be there when you need them most.

As I watch my friend mourn the loss of her husband, I’m also witnessing the beauty of God’s people coming together to carry her burden. How tragic it would be if she was experiencing this tragedy alone. Of course she’s not alone in that God is with her; but God’s love is most practically shown through the body of Christ–our Christian sisters and brothers (Galatians 6:2, Romans 12:15, 1 Corinthians 12:26).

Needless to say, we need people who will do life with us, and walk through death with us.

Remember: Eternity is Coming Soon

The wake of death will soon dissipate, and the waters of life will seem less disturbed (for most). But that shouldn’t change a thing… because death is still where we’re all headed. Eternity is just around the corner. If it’s not today, or tomorrow, it will be here before you know it. For both you and your loved ones.

So be ready — Live today for what matters most, while you still have time.


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