When someone dies right after you shake his hand, you realize how close we all are to eternity.
Last Saturday, in between two sessions at a ministers conference in Virginia, I noticed an older black man sitting near me. Everyone else in the hotel lobby was chatting and drinking coffee, but this man was sitting alone—and he seemed troubled. It was time to go to the next workshop, so I walked over to the guy, said hello, shook his hand and added, “God bless you, sir.”
No big deal—just a casual gesture. Or so I thought.
A minute later there was a commotion in the lobby, and I heard someone say that a man had collapsed. Paramedics arrived within minutes. People were praying. My friend Dayton, the host of the conference, asked everyone to clear the area so the emergency workers could do their job.
When I got out of my session an hour later I heard the news. Rev. Oscar Logan Sr., a 60-year-old minister from Chester, Va., had died—most likely from a heart attack. I was the last person to shake Oscar’s hand before he stepped into eternity.
Coincidence? Maybe. Or perhaps it was the Holy Spirit who prompted me to shake Oscar’s hand. Maybe it was to comfort him. Or maybe it was a subtle way of saying: “Goodbye, brother. I’ll see you in heaven soon.”
It’s not every day that a guy drops dead a few seconds after you meet him. It was one of those attention-grabbing reminders of the brevity of life.
After learning more about Oscar, I realized this is just how he would have wanted it to be. A Vietnam veteran who was wounded in combat, Oscar was an evangelist at heart. In the last years of his life, after his retirement, he served as an usher in his church, distributed food to needy people and took elderly folks to doctor appointments.
And he constantly asked people if they were ready to meet God. “He was always doing one-on-one evangelism,” my friend Dayton told me. “He was the guy who was always striking up conversations about the Lord and praying for people.”
How appropriate that Oscar’s death on Feb. 26 would immediately trigger more conversations about God. Oscar was ready to meet his Maker. Are you?
How long has it been since you pondered eternity? James 4:14 says: “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” The Message Bible puts it even more bluntly: “You don't know the first thing about tomorrow. You're nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.”
Recently I found a website called death-clock.org that actually calculates how much time a person has on earth before they die. It is based on current life-expectancy estimates. The user is asked to fill in their birth date, health status, body-mass index and typical emotional mood. Then, after entering this data and clicking the “Submit” button, voila! It gives you the estimated date of your death and shows how many days, hours, minutes and seconds you have left.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
Of course the Death Clock is not scientifically accurate—and it includes a disclaimer that the calculator “is unlikely to predict your actual date of death.” When I entered my info, the clock posted Feb. 13, 2039, on a cartoon tombstone and told me I have 10,210 more days to live.
I know that sounds morbid. But it might not be a bad idea for all of us to do the math. Too many people today are in total denial about their mortality. They get so caught up in the distractions, pleasures and worries of this life that they can’t hear the ticking clock or see eternity racing toward them.
They really need to talk to Oscar Logan. But since he abruptly went home to be with Jesus last Saturday—in church, his favorite setting—I’m sending you a message from him. Oscar would say: “Life is short. Put your trust in Jesus now while you still have time.”
J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma. You can find him on Twitter at leegrady. The Rev. Oscar Logan Sr.’s funeral will be on March 3 in Hopewell, Va. If you need more information on how to find the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, click here.