Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Pros of Growing Up Next to a Cemetery

God has appointed a time for my death, and that's a good thing.

This is an idea I got from reading a novel written by a friend. I found it oddly comforting, I suppose because underneath the idea is the assurance that death isn't the accident or random tragedy it sometimes appears to be. I can't die before God allows it, and no matter what I do, I can't live longer than he planned.

Psalm 139:16 attests to this, saying, Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (ESV)

I mentioned to my friend that I found her perspective on death reassuring and learned something interesting about her: she grew up next to a cemetery. Death was something she came to see as something of a part of life, maybe even a rite of passage. In fact... I think she even called it a promotion.

For Christians, that's what it is, but wow, do I ever struggle to think of it that way.

God must've decided I needed more help on the topic because, after emailing a little with her yesterday on the topic of death, today, the Bible study book I'm going through talked about death.

The study is on the book of Hosea, and a fair amount of that book is about how Israel has begun to serve idols instead of serving God. The study asked me to think about what idols I might be tempted to turn to in my life. Well, I realized, life itself can be an idol.

Trying to hang on to and cling to life will get me nowhere. With extremely few exceptions, everybody dies. There's that saying, "You can't take it with you," referring to all the riches we can store up on Earth during our lives. No one goes with you; there's no one to hold your hand and comfort you. Generations from now, people won't even know your name. I'll stop there because thinking about it from an earthly perspective can really depress a person.

It's Jesus Christ who offers hope, even in the face of death. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58, in a passage about death, says, But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (ESV)

God is completely in control. He has a plan, even when from our perspective, death looks accidental and tragic. He makes no mistakes. And he gives us victory, even in death. We can know that our work for Him on Earth isn't in vain, even if future generations don't remember us because he's told us so.

And though death seems final, He has conquered it and offers us eternal life in exchange for belief in him. No one says it better than Jesus himself: "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life." John 5:24 (ESV)

Your Sister

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