For it is by grace you have been saved...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Life, Death and Life

It’s obviously been a couple weeks since I’ve posted here. I’ve never been very consistent, writing as things of interest came up. But for the last couple of weeks, things have been really crazy.

Life itself happened to us. My wife’s van finally got to the point where we were putting so much into repairs each month just to keep it running that we thought it would be better to put that money towards a newer vehicle. Of course, as soon as we picked that vehicle up, my truck went kaput. Figures.

The house continues to fall apart. More plumbing this time. And of course, while the plumber is there he says, “By the way, you have termites.” Figures. It’s life.

But in the midst of all that, a little perspective was gained due to what we in ministry call a “run” on the hospitals. We can go months at a time with no one in the hospital, and then whamo: everyone at once. We’ve had several serious health situations in our church family, one of which ended in the passing of one dear sister into her eternal reward.

After two plus weeks with no day off, 12-14 hour days, all of this happening just when we’re having our three day Baptist Association annual meeting, of which I’m supposed to be Moderator, I get home late one night and my kids are trying to be nice and give me sympathy. I appreciate that, but it’s all made me think. I told them, yes, it’s been a rough couple weeks and I’m worn out. But it’s not me in that hospital bed and I didn’t just bury my wife. So I’m good. No complaints.

This has all been a good reminder for me of what’s truly important in life. But it’s also reminded me once again of what’s important in death. It was a joy to do this most recent funeral. I know that sounds strange. But this dear sister had struggled with cancer for over two years. She was so sick, so weak, suffering so much. And by God’s grace, her faith in her Lord remained firm to the end. It was a joy to stand before the literally hundreds of folks who came to the service, and speak of God’s grace and mercy, knowing our sister is beginning even now to sing her eternal praise; to invite others by the grace of our Lord Jesus to prepare now to join her in that.

Living well and dying well are intimately connected. Because we remember that real life isn’t about transmissions and termites. It’s not about health and houses. Life is about Christ. Glorifying Him with every breath, right down to the last one. Life is about preparing for our eternal home and our eternal task of serving, honoring and glorifying our precious Lord and Savior. That’s when real living begins in earnest.

Thomas Brooks once wrote: “A Christian knows that death shall be the funeral of all his sins, his sorrows, his afflictions, his temptations, his vexations, his oppressions, his persecutions. He knows that death shall be the resurrection of all his hopes, his joys, his delights, his comforts, his contentments.”

Life, Death and Life. We endure the first, leading to our encounter of the second, so that we may enjoy the third. Praise God! As Peter says,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
(1 Peter 1:3-7, ESV)

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