The luckiest man
You’ve heard it before, I know you have. The famous phrase goes like this: “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” We know those words and many of us know their origin. But have you ever really contemplated it?
Hall of Fame baseball player, Lou Gehrig famously stated these words in July of 1939. In less than two years, he would pass away from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — the disease that today bears his name. When he stated these words, he knew that his baseball career had come to a close. He knew that due to this disease, he would be fighting for his life, and probably lose.
And yet, he still stated those famed words. Was he delirious and not thinking properly? Or is it possible that his perspective was different than most of ours? Remember, this was the “Iron Horse,” the man who set the record for most consecutive professional baseball games ever played — a record that would take over a half century to be broken. From 1925-1939, this man did not miss one game, he played them all — 2,130 straight games.
The life of Lou Gehrig presents an interesting backdrop for the pandemic currently raging through our world. This pandemic has forced many of us to wrestle and reconcile with the issues of death and the afterlife as well.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he pens the powerful statement that gives hope and truth to all who follow Jesus. “We will not sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed… When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death, has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting… but thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Death has been swallowed up in victory. I truly believe that. I honestly believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and allows me the opportunity to be in right relationship with God because of it. I don’t fear death, for it is the gateway to eternity in the presence of my Creator.
Now, let me be abundantly clear — I don’t want to die. I want to live. I want to see my children grow up and, Lord willing, have grandchildren in the future. I want to experience the beauty of fall in Pennsylvania as many more times as possible when the air turns crisp, the leaves decorate the mountains, and the view from the tree stand is second to none. I want to continue to wrap my arms around my beautiful wife each night as we fall asleep together. I want to experience the joy of watching the Central Mountain girls playing volleyball as they continue to reach for the stars. I have much to live for, but, thanks to Jesus, I do not have to fear death.
We all have many things to live for, things that give our lives value and purpose. However, when your time comes to leave this world and step onto the other side of eternity, what will you be dying for? King David wrote that all of our days are ordained and known by God before we are even born. God knows when your time will come and that is not in doubt. Your timing will probably not align well with God’s timing, it rarely does in our lives. It’s why famed theologian, Charles Spurgeon, is credited with saying: “I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages.” The valleys and trials in our lives are difficult, but inevitable. Heartache and heartbreak will ultimately draw us closer to God if we accept His peace and comfort.
You can choose to live in fear and uncertainty, or you can choose to live in Jesus. The choice is yours. I challenge you to live in the power of believers found in Revelation 12, where Scripture states that “they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” May your faith prove to be true in the face of adversity in your life. If it does, then you can truly consider yourself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Scott Garman, pastor of Cedar Heights Brethren in Christ Church in Mill Hall.