Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Today or When I'm 99!

Lately I've been thinking about how I would look at life differently and live differently if I knew when I was going to die, say from cancer in a few months.
It's not something I normally like to think about but I have laid awake in bed the last two nights thinking about this and even fearing the fact that I am going to die, and worse, I could die a slow death from something like cancer.
People do every day.

This morning I shared my fear with Nash and he prayed with me.
After he prayed and I was alone I started talking with the Lord about it.
As I was praying the Holy Spirit began to talk to me in a gentle, quiet voice.
He seemed to say,"Yes, you could get diagnosed with cancer and die a slow death, but you could just as well die from a car accident today or you could live to be 99."
The truth that I have always heard, but for some reason made more sense than ever this morning, is that Christ will take me home when He chooses- which could be at any any time.

The more important question He has been asking me today is," How will you live?"

It started with reading from Oswald Chambers today.

"Our Lord's cross is the gateway into His life: His resurrection means that He has power now to convey His life to me.  When I am born again from above, I receive from the Risen Lord His very life."

While I read this I heard the Holy Spirit emphasizing, "I receive His very Life".

After reading this, I started watching Pastor Mark Driscoll's 11th video sermon on marriage. In it he and his wife, Grace, have a discussion with two other couples and a widow. The first thing that is discussed is the fact that one of the men was married before and his wife died of cancer. And one of the women was a widow, her husband also died of cancer.
Again, I was faced with the reality that at any time I could get a similar diagnosis. But instead of fear I felt strangely encouraged. I saw their spouses continuing to live life- in Christ. They were carrying on in what God has for them in this life.

Again I heard the message to receive His Life, not life, but His Life.

Then later I was reading and I came across a devotional from Charles Stanley. The devotion is on Matt. 28:1-10. I would spare you guys such a large quote but every word of it is so relevant to what God had been communicating to me today.

In it Charles Stanley says,
"We can be dramatically changed when we consider the ramifications of Christ's resurrection. It should effect how we live from this day onward.
        Jesus' resurrection proves that there is life after death. So many people think that earthly existence
is all there is. But this belief robs life of purpose and meaning.
God created us as eternal souls, and Jesus demonstrated that death is not the end, much more awaits us.
The empty tomb also gives us hope and dispels our fears about death.
We have One who has gone before us and shown us what's ahead.
Those who trust in Him as their Savior will be resurrected to new LIFE just as He was.
None of us know what day the Lord will call our name, signaling the end of our earthly life.
Yet we do know that He has promised to prepare a place in heaven for us(John 14:1-3).
Death is not the end, but the beginning of the greatest adventure of our lives-coming home to Christ."
You would think that God would stop there in His message to me but He pressed further.
After I read the days devotional another devotional booklet fell out of my Bible.
It was opened to an article that caught my attention. Starring at me was an old black and white photo with several men, one man being a young Billy Graham. I really like Billy Graham so I started to read it.
It was about a husband and wife, friends of the Graham's, who brought a young Christian couple under their wings and mentored them- for over 50 years!
The wife of the young couple, Sandy, wrote the article and writes about their very last visit with their mentor before he went to be with the Lord at a ripe old age.
The mentor, Fred, is quoted in his last conversation with sandy's husband, Elliot,
Elliot: "Do you have any fear or doubt about death?"
Fred: "No, I welcome death. It's a promotion. 'Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.'"
(Psalm 116:15)
Elliot: "But the fear is HOW we die."
Fred: "I don"t want to have a horrible death. Neither does anybody else. But it's in the Lord's hand."
Elliot: "But no doubts, no fears?"
Fred: "Oh, zero. Absolutely zero. I can't wait to die."
Elliot: "I just pray I get to that point. I can't say I'm at zero."
Fred: "Why not?"
Elliot: "Because my faith needs to grow."
Fred: "But what is the future in heaven for the believer? No more what? Sorrow."
Elliot: "I know all the points."
Fred: "But you don"t believe it."
Elliot: "I do believe it."
Fred(laughing): "Then there should be no fear."

There was so much more in that article but way too much for me to put in this blog.
I love how simple and true Fred's faith was. He died a month later.
He faced death head on knowing it meant LIFE with Christ, it was only the beginning.
 I was so encouraged by this article and the little I know about Fred.

In that article Fred quotes Psalm 116:15,
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."
I had to go read Psalm 116.
But like my other lessons of the day I read more about Life than death,

"For You have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
and my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord
in the land of the living."

I will walk, take action, in the Lord, in His LIFE- while in this earthly life among the living.

After I read Psalm 116 I started reading Phil. 3.
I didn't read it because I thought it had anything to do with my previous thoughts of the day.
But as I was reading I realized indeed they were telling me the same message!

In Phil. 3 Paul says,

vs.10 "...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death."

vs.20-21 "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body,
according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to Himself."

So, "How will I live?"
         With peace that I can trust Him to take me home when He chooses.
         With peace that He is preparing a home for me in heaven, where there is no sorrow-only joy.
         Deliberately, making the most of the days I have left on this earth- receiving His Life and allowing Him to live             
         through me.
We are called to live a full Life, afforded to us through His resurrection. Not just a life but His Life. 
And we can eagerly look forward to the day he chooses to bring us home, whether today or when we're 99!       

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