Tag Archives: death

I Samuel 20; Goodbyes

We knew our mom was dying. She’d been diagnosed with cancer 18 months earlier, and that awful disease had done its worse. I’d spent the weekend at Mom and Dad’s, and hadn’t wanted to leave Mom’s side. We’d finally gotten a hospital bed, and set it up in the living room so she could be close to us all.

I sat next to her and held her tiny hand. She told me she wanted to die, she was so tired of being sick. She wanted to go home. I wanted her to stay.

I lived and worked about 60 miles from my parents’ home. So that Sunday evening I packed up and got ready to leave. I stopped at Mom’s bed, and put my cheek next to her’s, and whispered,”Gotta go. See you next weekend.”

She hesitated as though there was something she wanted to say. Then, “Ok. Be careful.”

I stood up fighting tears and said, “Love you” as cheerfully as I could manage. Then I walked away, not knowing if I’d ever see her again in this lifetime.

I drove down the road a short way, pulled into an empty parking lot, and cried and cried. I loved her so much.

She died two days later.

You hear people say, “I hate goodbyes” all the time. I’ve never heard anyone say they love them! Especially if the one you are leaving is someone you love deeply, and someone you know you may never see again.

Like David and Jonathan’s goodbye here in I Samuel. I imagine Jonathan’s heart was heavy as he picked up his bow and arrow and headed to the field that morning. I imagine he fought tears so as not to show the boy with him his sorrow. I can almost feel the burning lump in his throat as he shot that arrow, the signal to David that Saul wanted him dead. And I bet he knew he had to get that boy out of there before the dam broke.

At that moment, Jonathan disregarded any fear of danger at being seen with David. He had to have one last moment with his best friend, no matter the cost. And I imagine that as the two men hugged each other tightly, their tears flowed from their deepest pain.

As I write this, thinking about my last moments with my mom, and Jonathan and David’s goodbye, I am weeping. Twenty-one years have passed since Mom went to live with Jesus. But remembering that goodbye still touches the sorrow as though it was yesterday. I can hardly wait to see her again!

So I’m sitting here thinking about goodbyes and wondering what God would say to me about that today. Then I remembered something David said in verse 3:

…Yet as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.

The same can be said of all of us.

I didn’t get to say goodbye to my sweet nephew that Sunday afternoon he lost control of his truck and slammed into a tree. He was gone in an instant, without saying goodbye even to his parents and sister. Without giving them the opportunity to say goodbye to him, either.

One step.

Now I’m certainly not advocating tearful goodbyes every time someone runs to the corner store for milk. But maybe God is prompting us to consider if there is someone in our lives with whom we have things yet unsaid. Anger or jealousy we need to confess, forgiveness we need to seek, Jesus we need to share.

Maybe God is bringing to mind someone you’ve stopped talking to for reasons you don’t even remember, or reasons so trivial in the light of eternity.

The truth is we are all one step away from death. Is there someone on your heart? Ask God what He wants you to do about that. Then do it.

You never get a second chance at a last goodbye.

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Leviticus 21-22; No Fear Of Death

It was a very big deal how the Old Testament priests handled death. They were not permitted to be in the vicinity of a dead person unless it was a close biological family member. Even then, they were considered unclean, and had to go through the requirements of cleansing in order to regain their position as priest. Plus, they had to control their outward expression of mourning.

What does that have to do with the 21st century kingdom of priests? It gives us reason to rejoice!

More than once, Jesus raised a dead person by touching them. In Matthew 5 he took Tabitha’s hand. In Luke 7 He touched a coffin. The Jews must have been horrified! That just was not done.

But Jesus was demonstrating that He has dominion even over death. I Corinthians 15:54-57:

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:”Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where O death, is your victory?
 Where O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Next week we will celebrate Jesus’ victory over death. He’s alive! We don’t need to fear death. Death has no power over us who know Christ.

Dead in sin, alive in Christ. Absent from the body, present with the Lord.

Yes, Jesus is alive. And because He lives all fear is gone! We don’t mourn like those who have no hope. We have hope!

Thank you, dear Jesus!

July 14 – Grieved

Amos 6-9

As I read these chapters today I am reminded that there is danger in getting comfortable, in feeling secure, in reclining on beds of ivory, sprawling on couches, eating and drinking, without caring that people are dying and going to hell.

May we never have the attitude that “At least I’m ok. My salvation is eternally secure. Let the rest of the world get what they deserve.” God calls it “the arrogance of Jacob” (6:8) which is the same as saying, the arrogance of God’s people. That’s me. That’s you if you know Him.

God is grieved over sin, over people dying without the Savior, over disobedience and hate.

Grieved.

Am I too comfortable to care?

June 18 – This Could Be The Day

Proverbs 27-29

A dear lady who lives in the condo complex where I live in Georgia stepped outside her front door today to take her dog for a walk. She’s been looking forward to this day for quite some time. Her daughter and son-in-law are missionaries in Bosnia, and are home on furlow. My friend hasn’t seen them in over a year, including her newest grandson. They’d flown into Atlanta, rented a car and were driving the five hours to the island for their happy reunion.

I know you probably guess there was an accident. And there was. But I doubt you could guess the nature of the accident.

My friend stepped onto the sidewalk in front of her condo, and the palm tree in front of her place cracked, and fell on her. She died instantly. It wasn’t storming. The tree just fell.

The reunion between mother and daughter will take place at a funeral home instead of at the condo. This daughter will plan a funeral instead of planning outings with her mom.

I share this after reading these chapters in Proverbs today. I read these and wonder why any of us spend a minute being angry or contentious, or career driven, or dishonest, or foolish? Why do we waste time playing with religion instead of worshiping God as He deserves? Why put so much effort into things that don’t mean a whole heck of a lot in light of eternity?

This life is all we have this side of eternity. And none of us know if today is the day a tree might fall on our head.

May 23 – Joy in the Mourning

2 Samuel 24, I Chronicles 21-22, Psalm 30

Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:4-5)

I don’t know what losses you have had in your lifetime. I have buried loved ones and it hurts. The thing about death is, it’s irreversible. Our loved ones are gone from this world and they are not coming back.

I’ve wept more than one night over the deaths of my parents and nephew. Weeping for a night followed by joy in the morning doesn’t necessarily describe my experience. Yet the psalmist says it like it’s a given.

As I realize joy is a gift God wants to give me, I am convicted. David goes on to say God is his helper, God turned David’s mourning into dancing, and God removed David’s sackcloth, the outward expression of David’s sadness, and instead God clothed David with gladness.

God did that. David didn’t have to manufacture some positive thoughts or light a candle. David only had to let God do His thing.

And so do I.

 

Jan 3 – And He Died

Genesis 8-11

Noah’s death is marked in chapter of 9 of Genesis with the words, “and he died.” Noah, who was one of only eight people saved from the flood. Noah, who built the ark according to instructions given by God Himself. Noah, who can be traced to be the father of us all. He lived an extraordinary life.

And he died.

God is reminding me today that that just about says it all for all of us. You will  have quite a few years less than Noah’s 950 years on this planet. But your days are equally extraordinary because you are the only you. Your experiences have never, and will never be repeated. Your choices are your choices. Your joys, your hardships, your dreams, your accomplishments, and your failures are yours alone.

And in every second of every day you live, God is seeking you as though you were the only person on Earth. Your’s is an extraordinary life.

And you will die.

And just like Noah, or Adam, or Peter, or Paul, or Suzie Q down the street, you will stand before God to account for your extraordinary life. The only thing that will matter at that point is your relationship with the living God. Did you believe or not? Did you obey or not? Are you a child of God according to Scripture (and not according to your own thinking) or not?

Dear God, I am reminded that this life I am living is going to end some day. I will die. And, although I don’t want to obsess about that event, I want to live my life with the goal before me. I want to enjoy these days as I prepare to meet You face to face. You, who died for me, who frees me from the chains of sin. You who loves me, guides me, molds me, uses me, and blesses me every day. You make my life extraordinary. And I love you.

I’m a Bit Confused

I was reading in I John this morning and came across some verses I just could not understand. I even when to a couple commentaries written by people I trust, to see if I could make sense of it. Here’s what confused me:

John talks about sin that leads to death, and sin that doesn’t lead to death. (chapter 5) Now all of a sudden I’m thinking – are there degrees of sin after all? But don’t all sins come with a death penalty? Isn’t that why Jesus went to the cross?

The answer is, yes! According to what I know to be true from reading Scripture in its entirety, I know that sin is sin is sin. And the wages of sin is death.

But, according to the commentaries I read, it seems John is talking more along the lines of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) who died immediately and physically for lying to the Holy Spirit. Like Herod in Acts 12. Like the examples in the Old Testament of people who were put to a physical death for sins they committed.

The commentators say John is likely talking about the death penalty imposed on law breakers. The physical punishment required of certain crimes, and in this case, of crimes committed against the Holy Spirit. I’m sure John took for granted that everyone reading his letter understood that Jesus died for all sin, that all sin requires eternal, spiritual death. John is urging us to never stop praying about those sins as long as the person we’re praying for has breath, as long as our own hearts beat within this body we are wearing.

But he seems to be saying we probably shouldn’t pray that the murderer on death row avoids the consequence for his crime. Maybe we shouldn’t ask God to remove any consequences of sins against the Holy Spirit, but rather that those consequences would lead the guilty to their Savior before they die.

I am reminded that all of us will face two deaths. One is physical. We can pray that God would let us live forever in this skin. But that’s a request He won’t fulfill. The other death is spiritual. That’s a prayer God will answer every time, when we ask Him to forgive our sins. That’s a prayer worth praying for ourselves, and our loved ones who still have not met Jesus.

This passage is not an indication that that little white lie you told yesterday is less serious than the mass murders committed last week in California. Don’t be fooled. That little white lie drove a nail into the hands of Jesus.

And this passage reminds me that the physical death we will all face is nothing compared to the spiritual death those who reject Jesus will experience when this life is over. I pray that you will avoid that spiritual death by giving your heart to the Lord. I have every confidence that if you humble yourself, repent of sin, and ask God’s forgiveness, you won’t have to experience that awful eternal death separated from the One who loves you so much He died that death for you.

Dear God, I’m not 100% sure that I understand exactly what John meant by the words he wrote in this passage. But I know that you inspired him to write every one. Thank you for speaking to me today through this difficult passage. I pray that I will be quick to ask forgiveness for sins I commit. I pray that those reading this blog, who don’t know you, will come to you with repentant hearts and accept your gift of eternal life. I pray for those experiencing devastating consequences for sin, like broken relationships, some diseases, or abandonment. May they face their circumstances holding on to You through the blood of Your Son. And thank You, Father, for dying that death so I don’t have to. I love you, Lord.