Guest Post: An Unwelcome Intruder – Two Reflections on Death

By Gregory Woodard


As a Navy Chaplain, I have the unfortunate privilege of presiding over memorial services for fallen Marines. Today was such an occasion. I led my Marines and the family in celebrating the life and mourning the death of a young 19-year-old Marine. Christopher was a father of a cute little girl. He was also a son and a brother.

I used the phrase “unfortunate privilege” above for a specific reason. There are not very many times that I get the opportunity to challenge the entire group of Marines that I serve. Memorial services are such a time for me. I always use the opportunity to call my men to challenge my Marines to survey their lives. Below are some of my thoughts from the service that I led at 1:00 Eastern Time on July 15, 2013.

We all know that with death comes grief, for a void has been left in the midst of a family and an extended family. God can fill that void, answer our questions and grant us a peace that surpasses all understanding. We just need to ask. The Scripture tells us in that God is a friend who will never leave us nor forsake us. In Isaiah 41:10 we read:

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Death is going to come to all of us. Below are two short reflections on how we should respond to death:

The brevity and uncertainty of life

We all have goals for our lives, if we are married; we plan to grow old with our spouse. If we are young, we expect a full long life. Unexpected death reminds us of how fleeting life can be. We dare not presume on the future. We need to make sure that we live right in the now. We have only the present moment to serve God and our neighbors. We have only now to make sure that we make every moment count. We have only now to maximize the opportunities that are laid before us.

We must be ready to die

Death is not the end; rather it is the beginning of our life in eternity. Death is a doorway, a portal to eternal life: a life without end. In my Christian faith tradition, death is not victorious. In 1 Corinthians 15:55, we read:

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?
When we close our eyes to this life, we open our eyes to eternal life.

We must be ready to stand before a righteous God who will either be our Savior, or our Judge. When your death comes, how will God respond to you? If you are not ready to die, I pray that the death of our fellow Marine will be an instrument that God will use to turn your heart toward him.

Dear reader, death is coming to all of us. If you are not ready to meet your creator, I hope you will respond to the call of the Holy Spirit this day and that you will welcome Jesus Christ to take up residence in your heart today. I welcome any thoughts in the comment section below.

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