This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on November 22 2015.
The end of every Christian’s life is death, and so it is not surprising that Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress ends with the death of the central character ‘Christian’ and his companion. In his book’s geography, death is portrayed by a river: deep, dark and cold. It has no bridge, and there is no way around. All must cross the river – just as we all must face death, and at death meet our Maker.
The ease or difficulty of crossing this river of death is proportional to the faith you have in the One you are about to meet. Christian struggled to cross because he struggled to believe that his past and present sin had really been dealt with – his feelings of guilt welled up powerfully as he approached his meeting with God. His companion, Hopeful, on the other hand was confident that Christ stood ready to welcome them on the other side. He had faith that God kept the promises he had made his people, while Christian’s faith wobbled under the high strain of his guilt.
Like all of you, I have never died before and so I cannot say how well I will face it. I suspect that the hardest thing for me would be leaving everything and everyone behind. As far as readiness to meet God goes, I think I would be ok. I do look forward to meeting Him who has changed me so profoundly, but there would probably also be some apprehension: have I known God as well as I could this side of life? Have I served him as faithfully as I ought? It would be nice to have no regrets, and it would be good know the Lord more closely than I do now. Whether our last day is near or far, it would be wise to prepare ourselves for it.