Timely Lessons From An Untimely Death

By Johnie Edwards

Adam Christopher Lanphear was killed in an automo- bile accident on Sunday evening, September 19, 1999 as he was returning from his home in Bowling Green, Ken- tucky to Bloomington, Indiana where he was a student at Indiana University. Adam had been worshiping with the Ellettsville, Indiana church of Christ for the past two years. He was 21-years-old and a junior at IU. I was asked to speak at his funeral on Wednesday, September 22, 1999 to over 700 people, many of them young people, in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

There are some timely lessons from this tragic death that I would like to call to your attention.

Death Is Not A Respecter of Persons

All ages die, infants, young school children, teenagers, early 20s, the middle aged, and those who are older. Paul wrote the Romans,“For there is no respect of persons with God” (Rom. 2:11). This applies to physical death as well as everything else. The wise man said, “For the living know that they shall die” (Eccl. 9:5). The Hebrews were told, “And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). The Psalmist informed, “What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death?” (Ps. 89:48). Adam was smart, good looking, a good student with a bright future, but death comes to all.

Life’s Plans and Dreams May Be Altered

Adam had planned to finish IU and then attend Duke University, get a job in finance, save his money, buy a Porsche and travel. These plans and dreams were cut short. I am reminded of the story a rich man in Luke 12:16-21 whose ground brought forth plentifully. He decided to build greater barns to bestow his fruits. The use of the word “I” in the story tells us he was selfish and left God completely out of his plans as he said, “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take then ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19). Now notice how his plans were altered. “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:19-20). This man’s plans were cut short and so can ours! We must plan, “If the Lord wills” (Jas. 4:15).

We Never Know What A Day May Bring Forth

Little did we know when Adam led the closing prayer on Wednesday evening, September 15 at the Ellettsville church that would be his last one here or when we in- vited him with some of our other students for dinner on Sunday, September 12 that we would never eat with him again. As a number of us got together for a pitch-in, on an individual basis for our young students on a recent Sunday evening, little did we know that was Adam’s last get together like that. As Adam left home to return to IU, his parents had no idea that they would never see again see him alive. It is as Proverbs 27:1 says, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not a day may bring forth.” James said it this way, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow” (Jas. 4:14). We all need to live everyday as if it were the last. One of these days will be!

Life Really Is Short

Adam was 21 on August 13, 1999. By the way, how old are you? The Lord’s description of the brevity of life should be read by all. He said, “Life is short” (Ps. 89:47), “a handbreadth” (Ps. 39:5), “a step” (1 Sam. 20:3), “a flower that is cut down” (Job 14:1-2), “of few days” (Job 14:1), “as a tale that is told” (Ps. 90:9), “as grass” (Ps. 103:15), “as a shadow” (Job 14:2), “swifter than a weaver’s shuttle” (Job 7:6), “removed as a shepherd’s tent” (Isa. 38:12), “a vapour” (Jas. 4:14), and “a moment” (1 Cor. 4:17).

Your earth life has just been described!

The Young Die Too

Adam was only 21! All ages die. Pick up your local newspaper and notice the ages of those in the obituary list. By the way, when do you plan to die? None of us has a lease on life.

Must Be Ready, At All Times, To Meet God

The parable of the wise and foolish virgins teaches us that, “. . . they that were ready went in and the door was shut” (Matt. 25:10). Didn’t the Lord say, “. . . be ye also ready”? (Matt. 24:44). Paul said, “I am ready . . . to die for the name of the Lord Jesus”(Acts 21:3). We must live so we can say as did the apostle Paul when it came time for his departure, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:6-8).

If you would like to write Adam’s parents and broth- ers, you may do so: David & Debbie Lanphear, Kyle and Colin, 350 Hillwood Dr., Bowling Green, KY 42101. David Lanphear serves as one of the good elders of the West End church of Christ in Bowling Green, Kentucky.