“Today we are here to celebrate the life of Christine.”
Despite flowers awakening to life outside, the scent of death was heavy. Sniffles and sorrow pouring from the wooden pews.
While the pastor recounted her life through stories and songs, I tried to fortify my heart and prevent the tears welling as I sat in the far back. Though, jolted from death’s detachment, all walls crumbled as “only 10 years old” vibrated through my ears.
No longer a mere word or something I read about… My dear friend, neighbor, and classmate since Kindergarten. Forever gone. Death was real and from that moment on, I feared it would imprison me, too.
While such a delicate topic, death is a reality in our world today because of sin. Just this very minute an average of one hundred and twenty people around the world will lose their life, whether it be from natural causes, persecution, disease, car accidents, suicide, crime, or malnutrition.
For many, this realization is like a match igniting a fire of fear, as I know it did for me at an early age, which continues growing if not contained or put out.
Though, rather than fleeing the inevitable, my goal today is to change our perspective and relationship with death because of the hope we have in Jesus.
Beyond a mere being in the sky, our Heavenly Father is deeply intimate and personal. Thus, He is well acquainted with death and loss, especially due to the Crucifixion of His one and only Son.
The agony Jesus suffered at the hands of the Roman soldiers with whips made of “braided leather throgs with metal balls” and “sharp bone”, ripping His skin from His body and exposing His organs is beyond gut wrenching. Especially when considering it was not something Jesus deserved.
Rather, Jesus was perfect. Sinless. Without flaw. He had done absolutely nothing wrong. Still because of our brokenness and sin, He paid our debt of death so we could be forgiven and no longer separated from Him.
I can only imagine such news causing a Facebook and Twitter frenzy in our world today. The grief. The emptiness. The confusion. The anger.
Yet, His Crucifixion was unlike any other. He did not stay dead. And even today, over two thousand years later, the resurrection changes everything.
Written in the 24th chapter by Luke (NIV), it says, “But early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb… They found the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So, they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes… Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen!”
Because of the cross and the empty tomb three days later, we have the privilege of choosing a relationship with our Heavenly Father, extending beyond the death of our physical bodies into eternity with Him.
- “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so you may also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 1:1-4 (NIV)
- “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away… I am making everything new!” Revelation 21: 4-5 (NIV)
My heart rejoices with such sweet promises and anticipation of running into my Savior’s arms.
Yet when push comes to shove and I find myself staring at bills or a diagnosis, persecution or a loved one fading, I still wrestle with fears of death. Can you relate?
No matter if you are 84 or 24, you think there must be a way for you to “fix things”.
Although, the truth is no matter how hard we strive or wrestle with reality, we are not in control. Only God knows our beginning and end.
So, does this mean we give up or sulk as we wait for our day to come? Absolutely not.
And friends, this will take us to our last point. A quote I recently heard:
“The question is not if you are going to die… You will die.
The question is are you going to live?”
Fear will not change the outcome. Although, our perspective can change our outlook.
Enough with the facade and dragging ourselves from day to day like zombies. Enough with centering our life around satisfying ever changing cravings. Enough with the excuses to stay in the familiar and comfortable or saying you are not qualified.
We must wake up, dear friends, because we are not guaranteed tomorrow.
Our brothers and sisters, neighbors and coworkers, mailmen and nurses, teachers and drivers are hurting and hopeless. Yet, we have the answer for which their lives are depending and His name is Jesus.
Are you willing to humble your heart and open your hands? Because I promise, God will use you for His glory as long as you have breath and even then, this earth is not our end.
Lord, thank you for sending your Son to earth, so we have hope knowing this world is not the end. May you replace my fears with faith in you and your word. Open my eyes to the needs of those around me and give me courage to make the most of each opportunity I am given, so others can come to know you, too. Amen.
Much love and prayers always, Alisha