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graveside2610As a pastor, I’m often called upon when life “vanishes like a mist.” One of the most powerful examples I’ve seen of this was Stan Gerlach, a successful businessman who was well known in the community. Stan was giving a eulogy at a memorial service when he decided to share the gospel. At the end of his message, Stan told the mourners, “You never know when God is going to take your life. At that moment, there’s nothing you can do about it. Are you ready?” Then Stan sat down, fell over, and died. His wife and sons tried to resuscitate him, but there was nothing they could do—just as Stan had said a few minutes earlier.

I’ll never forget receiving that phone call and heading over to the Gerlach house. Stan’s wife, Suzy, was just arriving home. She hugged me and cried. One of her sons, John, stepped out of the car weeping. He asked me, “Did you hear the story? Did you hear? I’m so proud of him. My Dad died doing what he loved doing most. He was telling people about Jesus.”

I was asked to share a word with everyone gathered. There were children, grandchildren, neighbors, and friends. I opened my Bible to Matthew 10:32-33: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men. I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”

I asked everyone to imagine what it must have felt like for Stan. One moment, he was at a memorial service saying to a crowd, “This is who Jesus is!” The next, he was before God hearing Jesus say, “This is who Stan Gerlach is!” One second he was confessing Jesus; a second later, Jesus was confessing him!

It happens that quickly. And it could happen to any of us. In the words of Stan Gerlach, “Are you ready?”

Francis Chan, in “Crazy Love,”