The Best Way to Die

July 21, 2015

My precious sister-in-law, Jeannie Elliff, bounded into heaven last night with joy. Jeannie had experienced a nine-year battle with cancer. When the final diagnosis came two months ago that there was nothing more to be done, Tom and Jeannie set their minds and hearts to “live fully until death catches us.” And, like no one else I’ve ever witnessed, they showed us the best way to die. Tom told me the day before her death that Jeannie was now ready, all the final goodbyes had been said and instructions given, and she was “headed for home as quickly as she can get there!”


Our last moments on this earth are coming for all of us. That is why preparation is necessary. Jeannie made those arrangements long ago. Having grown up in a Christian home, always in church, she made a decision as a child for Christ. But it was years later (5 years into life with her pastor-husband) that she realized she had never genuinely trusted Christ. She knelt before Him and was gloriously and completely saved. Every sin forgiven. Eternity secured. From that moment on, her destiny was not in question.

My wife, Holly, and I had the privilege of sitting at her bedside two days before her coronation day. Her first words to us, with her eyes barely open and strength almost gone were “God has been so good to me…all my life!” Then, as if she was receiving final instructions from the One-who-walks-with-us-through-the-valley-of-the-shadow-of-death, she would momentarily awake to give instructions. “Give this to (a friend),” she said. “I want to do something for (another friend).” “Has Jacqueline had her baby? Tell her we are praying for her.”


What is in you comes out of you in extreme moments. Jeannie went home blessing every person in her path. There was no “give me this, give me that” flowing from her lips. She was thinking of others. Her children and grandchildren, her friends. Those she had led to Christ. Someone she could help a little more in her last days. Like Dorcas’ disciples, women came through the house telling stories of anonymous gifts Jeannie had given them, blessing them and helping them to Jesus. The parade of changed lives was endless.

I pray I will die like this. No, I pray I will LIVE like this, all the way to the finish line. To live in such a way that my heart’s last beats are unselfishly beating for Christ and others.

I am so glad for you, Jeannie! You have dropped the bondage of this present darkness and moved into matchless Light and inexpressible Joy! We shout “Hallelujah!” for God’s great goodness and your great experience now in His presence.

And thank you, Jeannie, and thank you Tom, for once again teaching your younger brother, and all of us, one more lesson in how to really live.



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