I've neglected my blog for so long, Blogger made me log in! Listen Blogger, just because I want to hang out with my family and friends, go to the pool, ride bikes, watch the sunsets and snuggle with my kid doesn't mean *you* have to act like *you* don't know me!
Anyway, a lot has happened over the last few weeks. August is always overwhelming for me on an internal responsibility scale. Almost every relative or in-law of mine has an August birthday. My intention for timely cards is always good, but never met with my actions. Throw in several friends, along with wedding anniversaries, as well as remembering special people I loved that have died in August, and we pretty much cover every date of the month. Now August 17th is marked in my heart as the day my last living grandmother went to meet God face to face. My grandma's got along quite nicely on earth, so they are probably hanging out together enjoying God's radiance along with so many other beautiful family and friends. I miss her and am grateful God allowed me to be her granddaughter.
I've been thinking a lot about this lately, death that is, and how whenever someone dies there are always questions. "Why" is always a popular question. It usually pertains to the passers age, or the untimeliness of their death. A lot of people have lost their faith over this question. "Why him?" "Why now?" "Why not so and so?" "If God is so good, why, why, why?"
It's no secret if you've read here long that I no longer fear death. I had for 30 years but sitting every day for 5.5 months in a hospital, staring at the most beautiful boy I had ever laid eyes on, who science would describe as 'living', and then one day literally kneeling on that hospital floor with his lifeless body in my arms, radically changed my view of death. I'm not sure I've been able to articulate it until now, and I'm still not so sure I will be able to, but I'll share some thoughts that have been running through my mind.
Instead of asking the question "Why?", I think what most people are truly struck by is the "How?" or "When?" I think it's fairly safe to say that most people are aware that we are all born and we all die. Some might argue their sweet child didn't have the chance to be born, but I would argue that the moment the sperm and egg became one, birth occurred, and however long you carried your child, there was life inside you. Anyway, this isn't a political post. My point here that I've been pondering is that faith crises often arise not from the fact that we all die, but "How?" or "At what age?"
If we all were assured that at age 96 years and 133 days and 17 hours and 54 minutes and 31 seconds we would die quietly in our sleep, that would be it, at least for most. We'd go about our days...living life to the fullest, but knowing that one day within our last year, it would be over. We would all be given the same amount of time, yet we would all choose to live our lives differently. Or would we? And, in true human fashion, most of us would still try to avoid that final day. Or maybe we'd accept it? Maybe if we knew when and how we were going to die, we'd be at peace with the whole concept of death? But we don't, and so many of us aren't. None of us knows when or how we will die, unless one takes their own life, but even at the beginning of their life, that person didn't know they would make that choice one day.
I personally think people rate death and death experiences, actually believing the lie that some deaths are better than others..."Oh, she died in her sleep. Such a peaceful way to go..." "He was hit by a car. So young! What a tragedy!" "He had been sick for so long. At least he isn't suffering anymore!" "She was in a plane crash, so scary but quick." Torture, famine, drowning, drive-by shooting, suffocation, chronic disease, SIDS...I could name a million diagnoses, a million different ways. Honestly, most people would raise their hand and say, "I'll have an order of old-age, please, hold the aches and suffering. Give me the 96 years, 133 days, 17 hours, 54 minutes, and 31 seconds, and not a minute less!" But that's not reality and that's not how it works. It could have very well worked that way had Adam and Eve not blown it in the Garden, thank you very much! But they blew it and so here we are...earth dwellers who have every right to be offended by death, but we are offended for the wrong reasons.
PEOPLE, GOD DID NOT INTEND FOR US TO DIE! And yet, when people are stuck on the "How?" it happened, they get mad at God. Some modern's have even taken the Enemy of our hearts right out of the equation because, according to them, Satan isn't real. The Devil doesn't exist and Hell isn't a real place. Don't get me started on this mumbo jumbo! Ironic how that is exactly what the Devil himself wants us to believe. That way God's the big meanie and our hearts grow bitter, angry, and eventually calloused towards Him, the very One who designed us to live in His presence. The One who is absolutely in love with us and obviously knows something more than we do that He would provide a way for eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we, too, could overcome death. Yet, if we are living in fear of death or angry at God for "Why?" or "How?" or "When?", have we really overcome it?
I personally think it is a tragedy that most people avoid reading the story of Job in the Bible. I mean, yeah, it's a bit of a downer, but I believe God left it in there on purpose. Not to say, "Hey, look what you have to look forward to...life sucks and then you die!" but "You guys, I love you so much! Satan hates your guts and this book is evidence of how low he will go to turn your heart from me. You may not understand it all, but I love you! Just know that I love you and it won't always be like this!"
But "God allowed that horrible thing to happen! How can He be good?!" Yeah, you see the thing that sucks about living on earth is that Satan is real, whether we believe it or not, and because of what transpired in the Garden a heck of a long time ago, he still is working in the earth. HOWEVER, GUESS WHAT?! Something more beautiful happened in another Garden years later that changed death as we know it! You see, since God didn't design us to live outside of His physical presence, our bodies die. God provided a way, instead, through a sacrifice surrendered to in a Garden, literally over blood, sweat and tears, where His very own Son would remove from Satan the power over death. Jesus went on to die a most vivid and tortuous death, but that didn't mean Satan wouldn't try to pull that crap again with us. But it did really piss off the Devil and as a result, he hasn't changed his ways but continues to lie to us, coaxing us to believe that 'God isn't good because He let me have such and such a disease or so and so died at a young age or tragically or etc. etc'.
Jesus' whole message, His whole purpose, was all about life: to the full, eternal, abundant, everlasting. Recorded in Scripture, Jesus only said 'death' a couple of times, but 'life' is recorded throughout His ministry. Yet how many out there allow the idea of death to consume their thoughts and captivate their hearts? There was a reason Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow but to live one day at a time. There was a reason He said, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has how come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live." John 5:24&25
See, abundant life isn't living in hopes you'll avoid death. Abundant life is living one day at a time to the fullest, enjoying the people around us, building memories, trusting that God is who He says He is, appreciating the little things and the big things, and graciously accepting that even though we don't understand the "How?" or "Why?", that physical death only looks final to the people still 'living' on earth...but in Heaven, it's just the beginning...and we win because He won and the Devil loses!