I was driving to Atlanta recently to preach the funeral of a very good friend. This thought leaped out of my mind: “I have lived a long time, my days on earth will soon be over, and my work will be finished.”
I have been blessed beyond anything I could ever merit. God gave me a Christian mother and father. He gave me three Christian brothers and a sister. I knew I was called to preach when I was 9 years old. When I was 16 years old, he brought my princess to me. She was a saint and I lived with her for almost fifty-seven years. God gave us two fine sons and two wonderful daughters-in-law. They were dedicated Christians. They extended our family with two grandsons, Matt and Grant, along with five beautiful granddaughters, Allison, Abbey, Anna, Ashlyn and Ansley. They are all active in their churches.
I have preached in Jerusalem many times and baptized over 200 people in the Jordan River. I have preached all over America, and many foreign lands. I have been blessed, but I believe the best is yet to come.
The greatest grief my princess ever caused me was her death, and it shall be that until I walk with her by the crystal sea. I am looking forward to that day.
When Sargent Shriver died, his daughter said, “My dad was in love with two things, God and my mother, and only heaven can be better than that.” I will always be in love with my princess and God. Jesus said, “I am the way..” and He also said, “I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly.”
Thomas Ken wrote this line in an evening hymn: “Teach me to live that I may dread the grave as little as my bed.” William James said, “The great use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.” John, in Revelation, wrote, “Fear none of those things thou shalt suffer. You shall have tribulations, be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
It has been said, “The final test of our lives will not be how long we have lived, but how well we have lived.” Unfortunately, we only have one life to live.
If God gave us a second chance, I am sure all of us could and would be better. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Be still, sad heart! And cease repining behind the clouds, the sun's still shining; thy fate is the common fate of all, into each life some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary.” Yudisthera wrote, “Dear Lord, if you please, I want no heaven without the vast event of spring when birds nest and sing, without white dawn, magnificent and wide winds that swing.”
I do not know if the sun will rise tomorrow, but I do know that God loves me. I do not know if the tides will ebb and flow tomorrow, but I do know that it is better to be kind than to be cruel. I do not know if the rivers will flow to the sea, but I do know that it is better to love than to hate. I do not know if the harvest moon will return, but I do know that it is better to forgive than to hold a grudge. It is always better to give than to receive.
When we are weary and worn from the demands of life, when there is so much to do and we are tired - do not give in, trust God, there is a resting place. Jesus said, “Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden; I will give you rest.” He is the answer to all our problems!
Robert V. Ozment is a retired United Methodist minister.