Carroll Wayne Spangler
1 Thessalonians 4:11-19
Carroll Wayne Spangler, a son, brother, an uncle, a friend, and co worker. He was born, he lived, he died, he went home to a place prepared for him. We all go through that cycle of birth, life, and death because its automatic. Yet it takes a willful decision on our parts to go home to a place prepared for us.
For those who remain on this side of death, the Bible tells us, there is a time and a season for everything under the sun. A time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to hope and a time to give up, a time for joy and a time for pain, a time to be born and a time to die. The one experience that is common to us all is death. It is as common and as natural as all the other things done under the sun.
The Scriptures tell us that there is a way that seems right to a person, but at the end of it is death. If we are all living in order that we might some day die, it should be of utmost importance that we live in such way that in the end our lives would not have been lived in vain.
Whether or not we have lived in vain will not be determined by how much we accumulated in terms of material goods, for naked we came into this world, and naked we go out.
The only thing that we can take out of this world is what we have given away. For that is how Jesus said to lay up treasures in heaven. If we have not loved and have not given then our living has been in vain. I did not know Carroll, but I did get a glimpse of him and his life through his brother, sister, and friends.
God sends everybody into the world with a gift to offer to the rest of humanity. Sometimes we do not appreciate the gifts and the struggles of others. Carroll came into this world with a gift.
He had a gift of being there for people. Family meant a lot to him. Although he did not have kids of his own, there was a tremendous love in his heart for his nieces and nephews. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts that God gave to Carroll was the gift of giving back to people without seeking something in return. He didn’t give in order for others to say, "Wow look at Carroll." He did it because it was a part of his gift. He had a reputation for being a kind of a gentle giant. A big man on the outside, with a heart of tenderness and compassion molded by the desire to be respectful and kind to others. Carroll lived a simple life, who accepted things for what they were. He would want it to be known that he cared about people. Just as he began to truly enjoy the capacity to love life, death came to tap him on the shoulder.
Death is closer to all of us than we think it is. If you had to meet it today and your life would be over this afternoon, would you be happy with the life you have lived. Would you be ready to go with no regrets? Have you said your were sorry to those you hurt and granted forgiveness to those who hurt you? Would you be as certain as being in heaven tomorrow as you are of sitting in this room today. The good news is that it is still possible for you to be certain.
How many of us live as though death is a million years away from us? How many of us pay more attention to what our hair looks like than we do the condition of our souls which is what ultimately counts.
Death is significant only because it marks the end of our opportunity to have an affect upon others for the sake of Jesus Christ. For as I said before, the Scriptures tell us that there is a time for everything under the sun. A time to be born and a time to die. The mere fact of being born is a guarantee that we shall one day die. A lifetime in eternity hangs upon the balance of the choices we make during the brief interval that we call life.
But death is not something to be feared, For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not die but have everlasting life. Jesus, God’s Son, said, let not your hearts be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. For I go to prepare a place for you. Not only has Christ gone to prepare a place for us, He has revealed to us the road in which we should follow.
Jesus tells us that there are but two roads in this life. One way has a wide gate, is a broad road and that the bulk of people travel upon it, but it leads to death and destruction. He tells us the other road has a narrow gate, is very narrow, and that few people travel upon it, but that it leads to life. Jesus himself is that narrow gate. For he issued a call, "If anyone wants life, let the person deny himself or herself, pick up his or her cross and follow me.
Have you ever wondered how good do you have to be to go to heaven and meet God. The truth is, none of us could ever be good enough to go to heaven. It’s worthless to even try it. But going to heaven isn’t about how good or how bad we have been. It’s a matter of do we know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Jesus has gone forth to prepare a place for each of us. Just as he has prepared a place for Carroll. But, we must make a choice. None of us know the day nor the hour when we shall leave this world.
The joy of dying in Christ is that goodbye is never goodbye. For the word of God clearly states, " Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men and women who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.
According to the Lord’s own words, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left at the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down form heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
After that, we who are still alive and are left, will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. Our God is faithful.
With the passing of Carroll we lose more than someone we loved. We lose more than someone to help shape and mold lives. We lose a whole generation of knowledge. Things that were stored only in his mind. But much of that he shared with you family and friends, and now you are the keepers of that knowledge. I am sure he would want you to use it for good and love kindness.
Let us pray: