Sudden twists, turns, then death

Brenda Cannon  Henley

Life sometimes hits us with surprise after surprise. This seems especially true the older we become. I go to way too many funerals these days, and seldom a week goes by that I don’t get a call letting me know of the death of a friend or a relative. I said to someone at the funeral home last night, “We really have to quit meeting like this.” My friend laughed as we remembered the last occasion where we visited together.

We all know that death is coming to each of us. We just don’t know when. I have a friend that is fond of quoting, “We begin to die the moment we take our first breath.” At first, I wanted to argue at what seemed sad and unforgiving, but in reality, he is correct. James 4:14-15 is particularly clear on this matter: “Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. For we ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live,’ and do this or that.”

For believers, death is not to be feared. In fact, the Scripture says we should look forward to it and celebrate it when it arrives. That is hard to do. We have the human connection. We grieve. We miss our loved ones and friends. But we do not grieve as those do without hope. The Bible teaches we will be reunited again.

I think it is perhaps the suddenness of death that gets us. We all know it is coming, but we do not think it is coming to our home or our heart. Two examples that I will vividly keep in mind both happened in October. Five years ago today, on a beautiful fall day in October, a group of happy old church friends visited together in the North Georgia Mountains in an all-day reunion. Dixie King Babb and her happy son, Jim King, drove down from the Chattanooga area to see old friends and to fellowship. We had a blast, laughing, singing, eating and talking about old times. No one seemed to want to leave, but as dusk approached, we began to filter out to our homes.

Jim was a fine young man, a good father, devoted husband, good to his mom, successful in real estate, president of his homeowners’ association, a leader in church who loved music and was friends with all he met. 

Not quite two weeks passed and my phone rang. Dixie said, “Brenda, Jim is gone.” I said, “Where?” She said, “To Heaven.” I said, “What, I cannot believe that. We were just with him. He wasn’t sick. He was laughing. He told me he loved me. I had bragged on how good he always is to you. What happened?” She said that he was sitting at his mother-in-law’s dining table laughing and talking, and collapsed with a massive coronary. Nothing could be done for him.

This Saturday we received a call to let us know that a dear friend of more than 35 years had gone on a wonderful adventure with his beloved family to Ethiopia where they would climb and hike tall mountains, visit religious places, see relatives, and enjoy the fruits of his very successful labors. Titus had come to America, along with his beautiful wife, started work in the oil business, developed his own company, and did wonderfully well. He loved life and lived it to the max every day. They fished, they swam, they hiked, the family took diving lessons, they enjoyed their boats and home on the water, the small gentleman’s farm in Spring, and their beautiful home in Houston. Titus was generous and kind to his employees and loved his family. Friends enjoyed visiting them wherever they were. He bought a golden colored Lamborghini because he enjoyed fast cars.

While on this great trip to Ethiopia, on the top of a mountain, after he had seen what many believe to be the Ark of the Covenant with his own eyes, this relatively young man dropped dead from a massive coronary without warning or fear. We were shocked and in disbelief until we actually attended the wake and rosary in Houston. How sad were his family members and friends! He was so full of life and now dead and still.

These two men were both Christians. Both had trusted Christ and were believers. Their faith was strong and witnessed by family and friends with testimonies concerning their love and help on every hand. 


Death is coming. Don’t let it surprise you. Get ready for it so that you can enjoy your life while you are living it and so that your family and friends have hope when you die.