By Pastor Thad Gifford Contributing Columnist
February 28, 2014
Hebrews 9:27 says: “It is appointed for man, once to die and then the judgment.” I lost another dear friend this week. Julie Magers-Soulen was my neighbor for many years. We played together, we rode the bus together. We went to the same elementary school, the same middle school and the same high school. We graduated the same year and then she married and moved to Colorado. Julie and her husband were fortunate to live in the mountains of Colorado and she started a photography business. What a wonderful place to take pictures. Until a few months ago, she took photos, was published, sold her pictures on the Internet and enjoyed her life. About six months ago, she shared on Facebook that she was battling a battle of a lifetime — cancer. The dreaded “C” word. And with cancer, came the chemotherapy, the loss of her hair, a “selfie” of her with short hair and an attitude that she would “beat” this. Julie shared her progress, her disappointments, her valleys, her mountaintops and it seemed like she was making progress.
You can imagine my shock when I read a post from her husband Ric, that Julie had passed away and he wanted us to know. The condolences began rolling in. People from literally all around the world posted their comments. It was clear that Julie’s life touched many other lives. She was a very giving person, and was able to share her love for wildlife and the beauty of the mountains in her photographs. On and on and on came the posts about how her life had encouraged others. But there was something missing.
In all of the posts, there was very little reference to praying for her family, trusting the Lord in the dark days ahead and trusting in the promise of God for a blessed eternal life. I noticed those things because I had tried to talk to Julie about her eternal life when she first shared that she had cancer. She was not receptive. As a matter of fact, she pretty much told me she wasn’t interested. I have since been told that her mother spent the last two weeks with her and that gives me hope that perhaps her mom was able to talk to her and she made the all important decision to receive Jesus Christ as her Savior.
See…the Bible tells us that there is only one way to Heaven and that is through Jesus and accepting His sacrificial work on Calvary. Why? Because all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and we need a Savior. (Romans 5:8) God cannot allow sin into Heaven, so we have to be “born-again.” (John 3:1-7) If we are born again when we leave this world, we will spend our eternity in Heaven. If we refuse to accept Jesus as Savior, we will spend our eternity in hell when we die.
Every time I hear of someone passing, the very first question I ask myself is “I wonder if they were born again?” That is the most important decision you will ever make — receiving Jesus as your Savior. If you have not done that, I want to encourage you to do that today. One of these days, you will keep your appointment with death. We have no idea when, where or how. And while death is painful for those who remain, Jesus can take the sting of death away. He said, “Even though you walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I am with you, and I will comfort you.” We can have hope that when we leave this world, we will spend our eternity in Heaven with God. (I. John 5:13)
So, I will miss you, Julie. And I hope that you made that all important decision to accept Christ before you drew your last breath. If you did, I will see you again. And that’s Something To Think About for this week.
Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at (740) 852-7800, e-mail him at m.thad.gifford.com or at their website www.3c-church.org.