Dying Well

1116069_graveyard_1Many of us think about living well for the glory of God, but what about dying well.  How will we face that day when this life looks like it is coming to an end.  Will we fear?  Will we rejoice?  How will we handle the death of others and how will others handle our death?  In James W. Bruce III’s From Grief to Glory, he tells the story of John Bradford.  A godly man who died well.  Reading about how this man died encouraged me to live well, while I live.

During an awful time of persecution in the middle of the sixteenthcentury, God raised up a remnant of men and women in England who were valiant for truth and for the cause of Christ.  On of these godly men, John Bradford, wrote a letter to a woman to encourage her, knowing that her son would soon be chained to a stake and die a fiery death.  The woman was his mother, and he the son.  The following are selections from his letter:

My most dear mother,

In the compassion of Christ I heartily pray and beseech you to be thankful for me unto God, who now takes me unto Himself.  I die not, my good mother, as a thief, a murderer, or adulterer; but I die as a witness of Christ, His gospel, and truth, which I have confessed.  I thank god, though I am imprisoned, I am even willing to confirm it by fire.  Therefore, my good and most dear mother, give thanks for me to God, that He has made your son to be a witness of His glory.  Pray often and continually to God the Father, through Christ; hearken to the Scriptures; serve God after His Word, and not after custom; carry Christ’s cross, as He shall lay it upon your back; forgive them that kill me; pray for them, for they know not what they do; commit my cause to God our Father; be mindful of both your daughters, to help them as you can.

I have nothing to give you or to leave behind for you, except that I pray to God my Father, for His Christ’s sake, that He would bless you and keep you from evil.  May He give you patience; may He make you thankful, for me and for yourself, that He will take your child to witness His truthfulness.  I confess to the whole world that I die and leave this life, in hope of one much better, which I look for at the hands of God my Father through the merits of His dear Son, Jesus Christ.

So, my dear mother, I say my last farewell to you in this life, beseeching the almighty and eternal Father, by Christ, to grant that we may meet in the life to come, where we shall give Him continual thanks and praise for ever and ever. Amen

Your son in the Lord,

John Bradford