The sudden death of broadcaster Gerry Ryan has shot like a lightning bolt throughout our little island and I’m sure brought many of us face to face with the fragility of our own lives. I first heard through a text from a work colleague early this afternoon and as I overheard conversations in shops and on the street, the news spread throughout the city and indeed the nation. Gerry was a sometimes brash and often controversial radio broadcaster who was not to everyone’s taste, personally I admired his gift for plain communication although at times I felt he crossed the line of ‘decency’ and taste in some of his excursions into the sexual peccadilloes of his listeners. From the multitude of tributes which have flowed since his passing he was obviously a large warm hearted guy who was seriously devoted to his five children and his sudden departure at such a young age is terribly sad.
The most common reaction among people of my vintage ( like Gerry, I was also born in 1956)) has been ‘we know not the hour or the day’ or as a friend wittily replied when I sent him that text, ‘or the month or the year!’ Never has that stark statement from the Scripture rang more true, “ it is appointed for a person once to die and after death, the judgement ” (Hebrews 9:27) The Psalmist cried out to God, “ Lord, teach me to number my days that I may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) When a public celebrity like Gerry Ryan dies we are all confronted with thoughts of our own mortality and realise that neither wealth or fame can indemnify us against our final appointment with eternity and the Judge of all the earth, the Lord God Himself.
Once again the Psalmist pins it when he observes, “ What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave.” (Psalm 89: 48) So am I advocating a morose preoccupation with death as the events of daily life teem about us, no far from it ! There is a quality of Life spiritually generated that commences here and transcends this one out into eternity and it is there for the taking. In fact this is the Life that Jesus offered when he stood up at the feast and uttered this memorable invitation, “ If anyone is thirsty let him come to Me and drink.” (John 7: 37-38) Jesus wraps it up in his night time chat with Nicodemus , “ For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not die but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) The gift of God is eternal life offered to us through the finished work of Jesus on the cross, His dying destroyed the power of sin and the prospect of eternal death that hung over humanity. The Life is there freely available to all who turn from their sins and receive it. I don’t know what Gerry Ryan’s future is but I do believe in common with every man woman and child who has ever left this world, there are only two possible outcomes. May God in His mercy lead us to choose Life.