If I Should Die Before I Wake

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“Now I lay me down to sleep…I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

If I should die before I wake…I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

As a child, my mother taught me this little poetic prayer. Like many things adults consider childish, this little prayer is built on solid spiritual ground. The Bible truth underlying it is the security of eternal life and the reality of a home in Heaven for young children and all believers in Christ.

This wording is so thought provoking. “If I should die before I wake…” makes you think of what would happen if you died in your sleep. Where would you go if you passed from this life into eternity before you awoke?

In reality, death is not the only thing, or even the worst thing that could happen to any of us. Remember the words of Hebrews 9:27? “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”

This verse reminds us of three realities about physical death:

  • Death is an appointment we will not miss—“It is appointed for men to die once.” The lives of people, all kinds of people, of every gender, race, creed or culture, come to an end. Modern medicine can extend and improve it, but cannot continue it. Statistics have always been the same: one out of every one person dies. Death is the natural sequence of events for man.
  • Death is not the end—“and after this.” Death is but a transition or channel to life on another plane in another place for another time. For believers, death here means living in Heaven. Paul had “the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better” (Philippians 1:23). He knew that when death came, he would go to live with Jesus. However, Jesus spoke about a lost man who died and was buried, but “in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment” (Luke 16:23).
  • Death results in personal accountability to our Creator—“comes the judgment.” For believers in Christ, their service will be rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12). For unbelievers, their lives will be judged at the Judgment of the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-15). But for both, accountability to God follows death.

The best news you will ever hear is that, though you may die physically, you can live eternally. Though physical death awaits each of us, Jesus has provided a way to save everyone who comes to Him. He promises life beyond death—a future beyond a grave.

After His friend, Lazarus, had died in Bethany, Jesus returned to comfort the family. He did this with truth and action. As Jesus approached Bethany, Lazarus’s sister Martha came to Him and said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again” (verse 23). Mary affirmed her belief in the resurrection in general, but Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:23, 25-26). Resurrection and eternal life were not mere doctrines about future events, but present realities in Jesus himself.

These verses remind us of three realities about eternal life:

  • Eternal Life is in the person of Jesus—“I am the resurrection and the life.” Eternal life and gloroius resurrection are not found in things you do, works you perform or commands you obey. The resurrection and eternal life are in the person of Jesus. He is the resurrection and the life. If you have Him, by faith, you have the resurrection and the life. John wrote, “the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:11-12).
  • Eternal Life comes by faith in Christ—“he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” This is why Jesus said, “whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). When you believe in, trust in, Christ alone to save you, you receive eternal life and will live again, even if you die. Jesus said that death was a passing event, not a permanent condition.
  • Eternal Life is forever without end—“everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” Jesus promised Martha, and us, that everyone who believes in and trusts Him for salvation will never die spiritually. It is obvious beleivers die physically, because Lazarus was dead then and millions have died since. But the beauty is that beleivers in Christ continue to live spiritually, even after their body dies. Beleivers have eternal life and the end of their physical life is only a sleep for the body until the resurrection. At death the spiritual part of every believer goes to be with the Lord. Paul wrote, “while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord…and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6, 8).

Physical death is a bleak reality but eternal life is a constant hope. It is obvious we live in the land of the dying, but in Christ, are headed to the land of the living. Paul’s statement of victory can be yours in Christ: “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:56-57).

 

Author: Larry E. Clements

Follower of Christ, fortunate to be husband to Pat, father of 5, grandfather of 12, writer, associate pastor of Pauline Baptist Church

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