The Thought for the Week this week is written by Paul Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4)

We all know that one day we'll die. We don't like to think about it and, to be honest, our lives are so busy anyway, that we rarely get a moment to think about dying. But, illness or injury can bring it sharply to mind and I wonder, when we see things from eternity's perspective, whether illness or injury might appear as a blessing from the loving hand of a loving God who is giving us time to prepare for our final journey? Who knows?

All of us will die at some point, but it's just a matter of when. Some sooner, some many years from now, but one thing is certain - we shall not escape death at some point in our oh-so-short lives, so wouldn't it be prudent to be prepared?

So, what do we know about death? Jesus says to His followers, "I go to prepare a place for you and I will come back and take you to be with Me" (John 14:3). A place in heaven, with Jesus! Another dimension, not of this world. A place for those who have made Jesus the central lynchpin of their lives. They will go to be with Him. The bible makes it very clear that those who do not know Jesus won't. It's as simple as that. It's not politically correct, in this time of 'inclusion', but that's what Jesus says and we can't escape it.  However, if there was a day when you asked Jesus into your heart and were flooded with His peace then I need not dwell on that any longer.  You are safe in your Saviour's arms, only stay there and tend that bond of love with care that it might grow stronger each and every day.

The 23rd psalm in words we know so well, says, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, no evil will I fear for Thou art there". Every one of us will pass through that valley. The only safe way is with our hand in the hand of Jesus. He said He would come to get us - and I believe Him at His word. I had a great aunt (my father recounted this story to me), lying on her deathbed and very near her passing. Suddenly, light came into her face, she lifted her arm and pointed to the far corner of the room and said, "Look!" Everyone in the room turned to look where she pointed, yet saw nothing. When they turned back to the bed, she had slipped away from this life in that very moment. Did Jesus come for her? Or did she see into heaven? We'll never know, but take comfort from a glimpse she got of something wonderful, something good to look forward to for the believer.

Death isn't the end, but very much a beginning for those who put their trust in Jesus.

People have said to me so often, "But, I've lived a good life!" I answer them, "Friend, if we could get to heaven by living a good life then there was no need for Jesus to die on the Cross!" No, the slightest sin will keep us out of heaven, therefore, for us to live in the daily knowledge of sin forgiven is essential. Come frequently to the Cross for forgiveness. Remember, He is more willing and ready to forgive us than we are to forgive ourselves. Don't fret at all, but live ready! Live in the constant peace of a life walking hand in hand with a God they love and who loves them.