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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Chattanooga Times Free Press President Jeff DeLoach poses in the studio on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

If not weekly, once a month or so it seems something unexpected happens to me. A vast majority of the time it is nothing big, just something that needs to be dealt with, and life moves on nicely afterward. Then there are times when the unexpected is fairly significant and requires a good amount of attention. In these cases, it is either a situation I had no idea I was going to be confronted with and for which I am not prepared, or it is something I knew was going to happen at some point, I just did not know when. With these items I know are going to happen, just not when, I try my best to be prepared for them for whenever they do happen.

Most things that are going to happen to us are not consequential enough to really think about beforehand, and certainly not big enough to spend time being prepared for. Life is just too short. But there are a few things we shouldn't let another day pass without being prepared for — one particularly.

A few years ago I had two friends who faced this about three weeks apart. They both were aware they were going to face it at some point, they just did not know when. My wife and I had dinner with one of them and his wife in our home the night before it happened to him. With the other friend, I had shared emails the night before it happened to him. For both, the night before was routine in all significant respects, but the following day they both faced unexpected medical situations that became very serious very fast, and put them face to face with the biggest unexpected event any of us will ever face.

Unfortunately, they both lost their Earthly life fairly quickly after their unexpected medical events. Yes, death is the most significant thing that is going to happen to us; we just do not know when. So it is certainly one of the things we need to be prepared for. And while even the best-laid plans will not be complete, there are things we want to make sure we prioritize in our preparations.

Based on what I knew of my two friends, I believe they are in heaven today and will be for eternity. I say this because they both had prepared for the day God would call them home. They just did not know when it would happen. But most importantly, they were prepared. What a joy that is and was for the ones they left behind in this world.

We all can be prepared as my two friends were for this event. Through Christ's death on the cross, we can obtain forgiveness of sin from him, enabling our relationship with him to be restored, no longer separated because of our sin. The Scriptures teach us Jesus (the son of God) had to suffer death for our sins and rise from the dead on the third day for us to be given the opportunity for that forgiveness.

We see these recorded words of Jesus in Luke 24:44-48, when he appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem after rising from his death: "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."

That third day is Sunday — Easter, which we celebrate — and his death on the cross represents the payment for our sins if we turn to him for forgiveness.

Knowing Christ rose from the dead gives us, in turn, the ability to have faith in him so we can live our life here on Earth with true joy and happiness. The beloved verse John 3:16 tells us, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

The knowledge of our opportunity to prepare today for life with Jesus after death helps us put things on Earth into perspective and helps us deal successfully with life's everyday challenges that create worry and unhappiness. It also gives us the ability to forgive those who have sinned against us. God tells us in Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

We hope the special Easter publication included with your Sunday newspaper will help you honor the true meaning of Easter and provide you another way to gather with your family and share the story of the resurrection of Christ. We sincerely thank the businesses and organizations that sponsored this section, enabling us to bring it into you.

And we wish you a blessed and enjoyable Easter.

Contact Jeff Deloach, president of the Times Free Press, at jdeloach@timesfreepress.com.

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