Sunday, August 5, 2012

The "D" Word

This past week I celebrated a birthday and received the news that my younger cousin Jay died of a cardiac arrest, a complication resulting from an asthma attack. Consequently, I’ve been contemplating the very serious and sometimes uncomfortable issues of life and death this week.

You know by now that as a teenager, I had made the decision to commit suicide on my 18th birthday. Some may disagree with me, but I give God all the credit for finding the one and only way to change my mind – I was 2-1/2 months pregnant on that birthday. While I was okay with ending my own life, I couldn’t end the life of the child inside me. And though I only had the joy of my son’s life and love for twelve years and six weeks, it was the greatest joy of my life and I thank God everyday for the privilege of knowing Bryan at all. For me, having faced death so intimately in my own decisions and the life and death of my son, every day is truly a gift from God. I hope to live it in love and gratitude.

Death is a subject nobody wants to talk about, but everyone must deal with. Let’s get this out there in the open right now – someday, maybe even today, I’m going to die and so are you and everyone you know. That’s not a horrible thing. The life we’re living right now is only temporary. In the beginning, God walked with us in the cool of the evening in the garden. We were fully aware of and enjoyed his presence and embrace. The nature of sin, that infects all humankind, has left us in a spirit-dead state. We were never meant to live in this veiled state, separated from his glory. Death is not the end, but the beginning of what we were always meant to be.

I once heard death compared to being born. A baby in the birth process might feel and fear the stress of the unknown to come like we do when we approach death. He only knows the joy of being fully embraced by the one who gave him life and protected him in his little womb world, the one who provided nourishment for him to develop and grow when he dies to the only existence he’s known to the new life to come. Only in the act of dying to the old and being born into the new can he see face to face the mother whose voice, until now, he has only heard muffled in the womb. Oh, he’s sensed her presence in his old womb life, but until he is born, he cannot know her in the way his mother wants him to know her. She wants to hold him and care for him. She wants to caress his face and play with his toes.

Now I don’t know if God wants to play with our toes or not. But I do know that he wants us to experience him more fully in a way we cannot do in this life – unhindered by the limits our current existence. He wants this so much that he sent his Son Jesus to the cross to open the way for us. I don’t know what happens when we die. That is a mystery of God that we cannot understand or unravel in this life. What I do know is that I trust God and he tells us that it is going to be wonderful.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 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.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:1-5, NIV)

About the pictures:
North Park, PA (September 2011)


Audrey said...

Yes...the "D" word, and all that comes with it when we think about it, always seems to be something we avoid. Even though our faith promises us new life through our death...the unknown is a powerful anxiety inducer. Sometimes I am able to think "on it" and ponder, while other times I just want to tuck it away for another day. When my husband died I found that I wasn't frightened about what he faced, rather I was frightened about what I faced in my life without him. Death...something I'm going to try and think about today.

Thank you again for sharing your heart with me!

Common Household Mom said...

I am so sorry about the loss of your cousin.

I am waiting for the day when God will wipe away every tear, end suffering, and restore creation. I often think about my father and the suffering he is going through with Parkinson's, and by extension the extreme suffering my mother has in watching him deteriorate. It is hard to trust God in such circumstances.