Had a post in mind today but something I read superceded everything else I was feeling and my perspective has changed, for the moment anyway. Perspectives have a way of changing on a dime, sometimes. It's God's way of reminding us what is really important. I could almost hear God saying, "Take that!" He threw the windows of my soul open and I could feel the stale air being replaced by the fresh air of His Spirit.
The story was called "Facing Death with Christ", (On my way to Heaven) by Reverend Mark Ashton vicar of Saint Andrew the Great in Cambridge, England. As Author and friend Tal Brooke writes, "Mark was from the generation of Oxford men following that of John Stott and Dick Lucas, who were determined to bring back the gospel to the Church of England. Over 700 strong from Cambridge University swelled the pews of this church that occupied so critical a crossroads. It was packed everytime I went."
In December 2008 Mark had a routine gallbladder surgery and cancer was found. It was past the point of surgical removal or any kind of treatment. He remembers telling the surgeon after he had been told the news that, "what he had just told me was, for a Christian believer, not bad news but good; it was not the end of the story, but the beginning."
Following are some of the quotes from the article, which is very long and unfortunately I couldn't get an online version. However, you can order the booklet here at Amazon UK.
"We all die as great sinners saved by the great grace of a far greater God. Funeral eulogies rarely present an honest picture of a person's life. The good is magnified, the bad excluded. But when Christians are remembered as they really were: including their failures and follies, their bad moods and intolerance, their moments of harshness and unkindness, then Christ is made more glorious. For He is the one who has saved us despite our sin; who has loved us even more in their weakness."
"While physical things spoil and go dim, spiritual things grow brighter and clearer."
"I can now see that much of what I have striven for and much of what I have allowed to fill my life these 40 years have been of dubious value, I am not now going to gain any further reputation of achieve anything more of significance, and I realize how little that matters."
"I need to keep short accounts now, because I may never have time to make amends or apology in this life. The Bible speaks to me about this with every great authority and relevance. Each day as I open it, God speaks straight into my heart by his Word. And it tells me what lies beyond this life, I can see the end of life. It looms over the horizon.....I know that it is God's work and not mine that will get me there."
It's unfortunate that it takes something of this magnitude to make our perspective so clear, but most of the time it does.
Mark Ashton went to be with the Lord on Easter Saturday, April 3, surrounded by his family. His last words were, "I am nearly home."
"For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." 1 Corinthians 15:16-19
Keeping count in my heart today......