I think one of the most dreaded things for me to think about is death. There is just something so scary or intimidating about it. In many ways, it is really mysterious. I mean, what is it like to not have any thoughts or brain activity going on? Or to go to sleep knowing you won’t ever wake up. Part of it, though, for me is knowing that whatever it is, it is permanent. There are no mulligans- you can’t undo it. It just is.
It. Is. Finished.
Death is a reality. And as I stated when I started this off, honestly, it creeps me out. I don’t like to think about it. I don’t like to dwell on it. I’d much rather think about other things that aren’t so out of my control. But this past year, death has started hitting closer to home. Prior to this year, I hadn’t really had anyone near me die. (Never really got too close with my grandparents) Yet, it started with an elder gentleman- one of the first people I met while in Korea. And then it was a friend’s wife. And then it was a distant friend that I really admired and respected. And the one fact I cannot shake is this: they are not going to magically reappear and life is going to continue on happily ever after. They are gone from this life forever.
As death has started hitting closer to home, I am forced to confront this curse to existence. The fact of the matter is, I can look death in the face and know that I have the power to overcome it. But I must be willing to lose this life first. I know that doesn’t really make sense: to overcome death, you must die? But that is how it is.
In order for us to overcome death, we must surrender this life we have on this world to the one who gave life to this world. Jesus gave us life, both in the physical sense and in the spiritual sense. Jesus was there at the foundation of the earth- He helped create and, to this days, helps sustain His creation. But spiritually, he gave us life by dying on the cross- taking our punishment in order to reconcile us back to our Father.
And this is where that paradox of “dying in order to gain life” comes in. We must be willing to submit to Jesus Christ as our King and master of this life. We are called to be citizens of a kingdom, but our kingdom is not of this world. We can choose to submit to Christ as our King, and be part of his kingdom for eternity, OR we can choose to reject Christ as our King, thus choosing not to be apart of Christ’s eternal kingdom. We must be willing to give up this life, in order to gain eternal life. We must be willing to submit ourselves to our maker now, or forever be separated from Him in eternity.
Honestly, there is still a part of me that is bummed about our current cycle of life- we are born, we live- experience joy and pain- and then we die. But, life was not created this way. This world wasn’t created doomed, hopeless and destined for death. But our current state of affairs seems to indicate otherwise. And if this is the only life we are living for, it is a hopeless and depressing one.
However, this is where I can find my peace in: knowing that in giving up my life now to Christ, Christ is giving me life back in eternity. Eternity with Christ is the one reality that can help bring me comfort and peace when thinking about this-worldly reality of death.
One of the things God has been challenging me with over the past year is to live in light of eternity. Don’t just live for this life- live for the next. And the reason I spent some time tonight just thinking and reflecting on death was because a guy that I know- a guy that I had a lot of respect for- died at the age of 26 today. He tried saving a drowning camper but drowned in the process.
As saddened as I am by this news, I am proud to boast in the fact that this friend died living for eternity. He brought joy and laughter to those around him. Knowing him both from a distance and up close, there was nothing more evident than the fact that this man was living for eternity. He lived daringly for eternity. He died boldly entering into eternity.
Hearing this news was a reality check for me.
Some day, I too am gonna die.
And if I’m gonna die, do I wanna die living for this life or die living for eternity?
As for me, eternity is my choice. And my prayer is that I can do so as joyfully (and as humorously) as my friend who died today… I’m guessing he is already cracking God up with some of his goofy antics.
PS- It’s getting late so if there are a lot of typos, I apologize. I’m too tired and lazy to go back and fix it right now. Maybe later… Though, honestly, I probably won’t. 😉