Ravi Zacharias died today. Cancer depleted his body. His last breath was breathed. No doubt tears will be shed. But that is not the end of his story! If you are a believer, then you believe the words of Jesus and what the Bible says, that the dead will “wake up and shout for joy” in Isaiah 26:19, or Jesus’ words in John 11:25 “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” Even Paul’s words where He quotes Isaiah and Hosea in 1 Corinthians 15 push me with an indescribable passion. “‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’”
Ravi lived a life that exemplified dedication and commitment to God. I think he probably uttered the same words, or at least had the same reflection of his life, as Paul did when Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Maybe not. Maybe he felt he had more to give and more to do in this world. I don’t know?
What I do believe, however, is that he is included in that great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12. You know the scene that’s depicted. It’s as if we are living in an arena and are being cheered on by past athletes. “You can do it! Remember you’re not on your own! We’ve been there with you! Stay the course! Finish strong! It is all worth it!” I can see those chants. So anytime I see a giant in the faith finish their time laid out for them on this planet, I always feel the tremendous sense of urgency to take the baton of faith and run with everything I have until my time is up.
Paul’s imprisonment in Philippi came to mind today when I thought about men like Ravi Zacharias and others and what kind of an impact it should have on those of us still here. Paul said in Philippians 1:12-14 that what happened to him served to advance the gospel, because many in the palace guard were hearing him speak and it inadvertently caused other believers from all over to share the gospel fearlessly. This is one of the things I love about God and how we can trust Him even when things don’t make sense. God knew this all along. Right? Scriptures jump out to me like, “No plan of yours can be thwarted” as Job said. We can even perceive Romans 8:28 with a fuller understanding. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” What if the good mentioned there is not just getting favorable things in this world and being freed or even eventually freed from struggles and trials in this world? What if the good it speaks of is God’s good with regards to His message and His kingdom advancing? That’s certainly a good right?
We’re always going to face hard times, deal with uncertainties, and have to make decisions even when we have more questions than answers. My advice? Don’t focus on the white noise of the world’s voice, but instead listen to the loud, reassuring, cheering section that is the great cloud of witnesses! Ravi Zacharias was a great man of faith and apologist. I for one have gained by listening to him and reading his books. I can say the same for Paul, minus the listening to him. If I have learned anything from great people of faith as these, it is this: it’s our time to take up the baton and continue this race. The world has been knocked out of whack and is searching for answers. If you are on Jesus’ side, then I believe you have answers. It’s Him. He’s the answer. He’s the way, the truth, and the life!
Ravi Zacharias once said, “Jesus Christ didn’t come into the world to make bad people better. He came into the world to make dead people live.” He stood on many stages and proclaimed this. He walked into various meetings and conversations unashamedly, with an undeniable compassion, and shared this truth with whomever he had the opportunity. His race is run and the baton is passed. I’m ready to hit the ground running with the deafening cheer of those who’ve passed motivating me to go with a relentless, uncompromising approach! Who’s with me?!