From a talk, given in 1992
Hi, Randy asked me to give a quick 10 minute chat to you this morning.
But before I start, I have a question for you all. It is the fundamental question of all time and asked at some point by everyone.
The question is: What is my reason for existence?
Pause here for a bit and see if you can answer that for yourself.
You see the Bible has an answer for that. The Bible tells us over and over again that the chief purpose of Man is to Glorify God. It says that God created MAN to Glorify Himself.
The Westminister Confessional says: The Chief purpose of Man is to Glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Do you believe that? Turn to Isaiah 43:6
Is 43:6-7. Bring my sons from afar and my daughter from the ends of the earth-everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for MY glory, whom I formed and made.
If you skip ahead to verse 20, it repeats that. In fact this concept is repeated over and over again in the Bible.
Now let me ask you another question: How many of you reading this are between 23 and 25? Let me ask you a question: Are you afraid to die? Are you afraid of death?
What I am about to tell you is a true story. Sandy, a young 24 year old, had a headache 8 weeks ago. Six weeks later she was dead.
Let me ask you again. Are you afraid to die?
Sandy (not her real name) went in to see the doctor because her head really hurt. She was told that it was probably not anything serious, and they gave her some pills. But the pain didn’t go away, so a bit later she was back in and that’s when they decided to do a CAT scan.
That’s when they discovered that she had a tumor the size of a golf ball in the middle of her brain. The decision was to give her immediate radiation therapy and immediate surgery to remove the tumor. As they went into her brain, our entire church gathered together to pray for her successful surgery and healing. After the surgery she started recovering. She was cheerful and sent us her love even though she was in pain and all her hair had been shaved for the surgery.
A week later, just as they were getting ready to release her from the hospital, she blacked out. So they took her back in and did more x-rays. To our horror, almost overnight, the portions of the tumor that had been left from the surgery had re-grown in that short time to a tennis ball size. But now the tumor was occupying such a major part of her brain that they could not do any more surgery, so they started intensifying the radiation therapy.
Let me ask you a question? Are you afraid to die?
Sandy started losing control of her abilities.
Day by day, the entire church watched as slowly and steadily despite their prayers, Sandy started to lose her ability to move, until finally, one day she found out to her horror that she was effectively paralyzed.
Imagine her lying there in bed? Weak and tired. Knowing that she was slowly losing control of her body. But it was not over because, one terrifying day she woke up and she felt like she was looking through a tunnel. As each day went by she realized that she was steadily losing her sight and she continued to do so until, finally this vibrant 24 year old was fully blind.
Are you afraid to go blind?
Are you afraid to die?
Sandy’s real mom was flown in from Florida. Now Sandy’s deepest longing had always been that her mother would come to know the Lord as she herself had so many years ago. But as yet, her mom was unsaved. On arriving, her mom asked if they could fly Sandy back to Florida, so that she could die there. And so all the arrangements were made for Sandy to be flown back east, but the very night she was to leave, Sandy’s condition instantaneously got so bad that it was apparent to us that God wanted Sandy to die in California.
Are you afraid to die?
Then Sandy started blacking out. For long periods of time she would black out and then come to and cry out to her friends, friends who were permanently stationed around her bedside during those horrible last few weeks.
But were they horrible weeks?
Let me ask you again? Are you afraid to die?
I’m not. Not anymore.
You see the Bible says, “our corruptible shall put on incorruptible, our mortality shall put on immortality, death will be swallowed up in Victory.” “O Grave where is your Victory, oh death where is your sting?” For the Grave Robber comes and He steals us away.
Are you afraid to die? I’m not, because in her deepest darkest moments, God’s grace shone down on Sandy. One night, Laurie, a friend sitting by Sandy’s side, was startled to hear Sandy talking. “Jesus, is that you Jesus?” Sandy said “Oh it’s so beautiful, look at the robes.”
You see, we didn’t know it at the time, but as the days went by we realized that she was describing the wedding feast. She said “Jesus, that IS you” it was as if she was standing there and she could see the entire wedding there in front of her, then she turned back to look at Laurie, with those now sightless eyes and said, “Laurie oh look Laurie…” and then she said “Oh you can’t see it can you Laurie, you can’t see it, oh it’s so beautiful.” She was fully coherent. It was as if God in his supreme mercy and grace had pulled back the curtain from heaven to show her His Glory. His majesty. His love. Over and over again this would happen. And each time her blinded eyes would radiate the glory of what she was seeing. You see, the Lord had taken away her physical sight, but which of us here would not gladly trade that for the vision of heaven that the Lord had given her. And each time it was HER comforting Laurie and those at her deathbed, it was her, who was dying, telling us who were living, what peace and joy awaited us.
She knew she was dying and yet she comforted us, she knew she was dying and yet she brought us peace. And her deepest darkest hour, was her sweetest, strongest time. For in her dying she was living again and in our living we were dying. “Our corruptible shall put on incorruptible, our mortality shall put on immortality”
Are you afraid to die? Sandy wasn’t, because in those final dark days she told us that she was not afraid to die, that she had great peace with the Father.
She was not afraid to die. And over and over again she would comfort us, those who came to comfort her.
Then finally one evening, she called out for her mother. They brought her to Sandy’s bedside, and she asked her mother, “Mom, have you accepted Jesus into your heart?” and from the witness of those last few days and the work of the Holy Spirit, her mother had indeed been called and said “Yes, Sandy I have, God has saved me.”
And having done what she had set out to do, Sandy closed her eyes and a few hours later went to be with her Lord. With my Lord. With our Lord.
“It’s a far greater thing I do now, than I have ever done before. It’s a far greater place I go to now, than I have been before……… Father – into your hands I commit my spirit.
“And now I step into your Glory.”
Are you afraid to die? That Sunday night when the church gathered to hear about Sandy’s last days, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place not because we were sad for Sandy, not because we were sad for her family, not because we were sad for us, but because in that moment we saw the Majesty and Glory of God, because in that instant we saw the grace and the love of God, and in that instant we GLORIFIED God.
Am I afraid to die? Not anymore, if I could bring a quarter of the praise that Sandy brought the Lord in her death, I want to be able to gladly go to mine for him. May God give me the strength and peace for that.
Are you afraid to die? I’m not.
My sole reason for existence is to Glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Let me ask you, what is yours?
Neil Mammen, 1992.