As you get older, you start turning to the obituaries each morning to see if anyone’s listed you might know. One comedian used to quip he’d read the obits every day to make certain he wasn’t in them – if not, then he would proceed with his plans for the day.
This morning I read the obituary of a man I hadn’t known until I heard him a couple of weeks ago, telling a lunchtime group the story of how he had committed his life to Jesus Christ. As he spoke, the man – whose first name was Porter – acknowledged his time on earth was short. He’d already reached the most optimistic limit of the doctors’ prognosis after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
But he communicated no sense of fear, despair or anger. Having devoted much of his life to alcohol and self-indulgence, Porter was thankful for years of sobriety, new purpose in life, and most of all, assurance of life after death.
His objective in speaking was not to “earn points” with God in his waning moments. He wished only to share with friends and colleagues the difference Jesus had made in his life – and encourage them to embrace Him as well. Porter had prepared himself, as the Bible exhorts believers, “to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
Despite earlier failings, Porter had become reconciled with his family. As he spoke, he resonated “hope,” which the Bible defines as confident assurance, earnest expectation. He wasn’t seeking more time, or a miracle of healing. This man just wanted to share the “good news” he had discovered one more time, urging others to receive it as well.
In sports, an athlete recovering from an injury is often described as “day to day.” In reality, we are all day to day. The question is what will we do with the day we have? And if we knew with certainty we had only weeks, perhaps days left to live, how would we use them?
Porter, having been saved from the shipwreck that had been his life, spent his last moments throwing a life preserver toward anyone that would take it. And now he’s experiencing the full reality of what Jesus meant when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).