Since moving to west-central Georgia four months ago, I've had the privilege of attending a men's fellowship group known as the Front Porch Gang. Every Thursday morning, anywhere from 15 to 30 guys gather at the home of a lawyer-turned-musician named Allen Levi. Allen's house sits on a hill, with the view from said front porch sweeping across a pretty little valley. That view alone is worth the effort to get up early and make the 20-minute drive to Allen's house.
In addition to prayer and Bible study, these gatherings typically include a lot of joking around and light-hearted conversation. Lately, however, the mood has been more somber. That's because Allen's brother, Gary, recently was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. But as Gary himself has reminded us, both in writing and in person, his illness is really a gift and a blessing, rather than a time for lamenting what soon could be a life cut short. If our earthly lives are all have hope for, then the latter view certainly would make sense. But as a follower of Jesus Christ, Gary has a hope built on the living God, the one who overcame death and promises to give eternal life to all who put their faith in Him.
The following is excerpted from an email Gary sent the Front Porch Gang. If you know Jesus as your Savior, be encouraged. If you don't, then give some thought to what he has to say about life and death. Gary has received the eternal life that Jesus offers, hence the assurance that shines through his words. Jesus' offer is there for you too: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). What you do with that offer is literally a life-and-death matter.
Many of you are praying for my healing. Thank you. I am praying for His will, that He will use this for His glory and honor, and that He will draw us all closer to Himself. Selfishly, a part of me is praying to go home. Like yourself, perhaps, I am tired of the struggles in this life, the fight with self and the flesh. Everyday it seems that I am more and more aware of my need and my weakness. I long to see Him face to face, with a glorified mind, soul and body and to be as He is. I'm not sure what will happen but I know the One Who does and I rejoice in the fact that He rejoices in doing me good.
It may seem strange, but I am excited about the possibility of going home soon. My brother wrote a song with the title, "the first of us to go." We both long to go to our eternal home. I have often felt as Paul did when he wrote that he longed to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far. While I struggle with the thought of leaving loved ones that are dear to my heart, I hope that, in each one of us, there is a longing to be with Christ, a longing for home, a longing to be with the One Who loves us more than we can imagine and a desire to be in that place where we will be able to love Him back perfectly.
Life has been good to me in this fallen world, largely because of ones like you, but I know that there is something better and I want to fall asleep and wake up there. What a task and blessing I have now of thanking all of you who have enriched my life by allowing me to see Christ more clearly through your walk.
Let's continue to press on and obey Him until He returns. Your life enriches mine and I am blessed by our paths having crossed. My life and times, like yours, are in His hands. If He chooses to keep me here, I pray that I will love Him more and more, fight for His honor, glory and Kingdom. And if He chooses to take me home, I will praise Him until you arrive.