Friday, July 18, 2008
Death, Where Is Your Victory?
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones." (Psalms 116:15). I've been thinking about death a lot lately. Now that may sound morbid and not in keeping with the verse on my masthead, but hear me out and maybe you'll change your mind. I've observed a lot of people lately who knew their lives on this earth were severely numbered, and I've been impressed with the grace which we they lived their final days. None of them had a death wish. On the contrary, they had full lives with families they loved and wanted to stay with. But they also had faith, and that made all the difference. One man, Scott, used his final months to teach joyous Bible studies on heaven. When told how courageous he was, he disagreed. He was, he said, just semi-literate. He could read - he read the Bible and he chose to believe it. I thought about that a lot. I think he's right. When a fireman runs in to a burning building, or a soldier goes in to a war zone, that's courage. But if you told your child to get in the car and after a long, hot, tiring car ride he would arrive at Disney World, would he be courageous to get in the car? Our Heavenly Father is telling us, take my hand and I'll take you to Heaven! Taking a hold of His hand is not courage - it's Faith! Everything is different with faith.
"For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21) One woman finished her missions training still not sure where she was meant to go. She prayed and agonized over her decision. Then she was diagnosed with stage IV cancer - and she was amused that God had already chosen the hospital and then hospice as her mission grounds. Because when you have faith in God, you believe what He tells you and you put your trust in Him. You live for Him while you are here and you trust Him to lead you home to your reward.
Of course, death wasn't the original plan, but Jesus won the victory for us with His death, burial and resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15: 54b, 55...57) - "Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?...but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps you think it would be easier to believe if someone would come back from heaven and tell you about it? But Someone already has! His name is Jesus Christ. He came from heaven and He told us all about it when He lived among us in the flesh. When He left, He made a promise. "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also...I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." (John 14: 1-3; 6). Like Scott, and so many others before me, I choose to believe it. My prayer is to live for Him here and live forever with Him there.