For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.
Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 NIV
The Final Conversation
The final time I talked to my little brother, Ricky, the conversation was jovial. We caught up on what was happening in his Texas home. He had a new job, a girlfriend, and his health, although he had a history of illness and heart problems, seemed to have stabilized.
In his early 60s, he asked me about Carolina Reaper Peppers. He’d watched a television show that discussed the peppers, supposedly the hottest in the world, and sold only in the Carolina’s. I told him I’d never heard of them, but I would check into it, and send him some.
Three days later, I was awakened from a sound sleep about 2 a.m. by a ringing telephone, which is never a good thing. It was his sobbing girlfriend. She’d been trying to reach him all day. When she went over to check on him, she found his body lying near the front door. With his health history, his death was a surprise, but not shocking.
When I think about that conversation with my brother, I think about what more important things we could have talked about. Chief among these, our relationship with Jesus Christ. Of course, we’d spoken of Jesus, including my promises to keep him in my prayers before his several surgeries. I asked about local churches in Texas and urged him to attend. He’d return to church someday, he said. A parting reminder to “get right with the man upstairs,” but never a heavy discussion. But we didn’t have the conversation. Did he accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior? Did he understand that Hell is real? Was he prepared for the afterlife?
After anyone has died, it’s too late to pray for them. They had their chance, a lifetime, and did not take it. As much as we’d like too, our prayers cannot move them from Hell to Heaven. We can pray for the living though. Pray the Lord blesses the family in their troubling time. Pray that death leads to someone else coming to salvation. Pray that souls be saved.
Lack of Conversations
It was a lack of conversation that I’ll forever regret. If he’d answered no to either question, I could have led him to salvation. Or at least tried.
I believe my brother’s name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. And that I will l see him again. But I’ve adopted a new policy that I put into practice when I called my best friend to tell him Ricky had died. I ended the conversation with a question: Do you have a relationship with Jesus?
I may not know for certain about my brother, but the lack of conversation on the most important question can be the catalyst for conversations with others.
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Edward Wills is a former journalist residing in Holly Ridge, NC.