It was a poignant end to Bible study.
The adult Bible study of Byron Center PRC had just concluded its last class of the year by finishing with the last verse of Acts 14. The leader, Mr. Leroy DeVries, announced his relief that the class had made it through chapter 14, so the group could start next year with Acts 15:1.
“But you will have to find another leader.”
Leroy is dying. He will not be around for our Bible study next year. The doctors took him off all cancer medicine (that was making his life miserable) and told him he had six months to live.
What is it like to face death? And not someday far off in the future, but soon?
I asked Leroy if I could interview him to hear the perspective of a man who is facing the imminent reality that all of us will one day face. My thought was that the things he has learned in the crucible of death might be used “for our learning” (Rom. 15:4).
Leroy and his wife Sandy were gracious in receiving me and patient in answering this inexperienced editor’s questions (emphatically no Allistair Begg, theologian and pastor of a 3,500–member congregation near Cleveland, Ohio, by whom they were visited a few months earlier).
Leroy and Sandy’s thoughts and insights have informed and shaped the editorial that follows, and I am grateful to them for it.
The editorial will focus on the topic of death—not something that many of us talk about with any regularity. However, it is a topic that some young people have to discuss, because they face the prospect of life without their mother, father, or sibling.
Dying is something we all fear, and will all face. Ignoring it may work for a while, but it will not be long before we are confronted by it. Leroy and Sandy said it would be good for us to think about death at a younger age—not so that we can go around with long faces and teary eyes, but so we can see the truth of the matter, as they have come to see it. “Death is a positive.” What a remarkable confession! Here is what it means to “die the death of the righteous” (Num. 23:10).
I hope that the editorial may strike up conversations about the brevity of our lives, so we can see that for the believing child of God the tamed and fangless viper, death, has lost its sting and is no longer the victor (1 Cor. 15:55).
I say Leroy will not be around for “our” Bible study next year. Which is not to say that he will not be engaged in a study of his own. He will be. The one led by Jesus Christ.