Human beings are the only species who can anticipate their death. We know that one day we will have to face death—an appointment we can’t put off. We may not know when it’s coming, but we know death is certain. My dog doesn’t foresee her death. Neither do the birds that nest in my trees or the deer that come down from the hill at night to eat the pears from my pear tree. Even the houseplants are unaware of their ending—which in my house is sooner than later. Only humans are aware of death.
I think it was a country music singer who once said, “It’s not that I fear dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Those are my thoughts exactly. However, most avoid the subject of death all together. Even though we’ll spend more time on the other side of the grave, we give more thought to planning a vacation than we do death. Why not—living is more fun! The ironic thing is we are not truly prepared to live until we are truly prepared to die.
I experienced this truth in my own life. Like many, I gave my heart to Jesus at a young age. My parents were talking “divorce” which meant that all attention was on them and their problems. My siblings and I began to feel insecure and uncared for. At the time, however, we were still attending church. Encouraged by our pastor, our family joined other church members and together attended a James Robison crusade in our home town. This was a turning point in my life.
Even though I was very young, James Robison held my attention as he spoke about a Savoir who loved me so much that He died for me. This Jesus wanted to be my friend; my helper; my comforter, and best of all—He would never leave me. His words captivated my heart and mind. It felt as if God reached down from heaven and held my small little face in the palm of His hands and spoke directly to me.
When Robison invited us to make Christ our Lord and Savior, I jumped up from me seat and headed toward the stage. My mom called out to me. “Micca, wait!” Looking over my shoulder at my mother, the gap between us was quickly filled by a sea of people. We were separated. Usually this would have frightened me, but I wasn’t afraid. I was drawn forward to the stage. I had to get to Jesus. And that’s what I did.
My mom eventually caught up with me and sat by my side as an elderly man led me to receive Christ. I felt the love God being poured into my heart so much so that I cried until strings of snot hung to my chin. It wasn’t pretty, but I didn’t care. I had Jesus!
The years went by and I experienced more troubles and heartaches in my life. While most of the time I clung to Jesus and His Word, I also allowed anger along with other accompanying emotions to enter my heart. Before long, I lost my passion for God. I grew stale in my faith all the while wondering where my peace and joy went. I had no idea that I had pushed them out and replaced those good emotions with bad ones.
I was in my early thirty’s when I couldn’t stand it any longer. I knew there was more for the life of a believer and I was missing out. Desperate, I cried out to God asking Him to change me; to restore my joy and free me from my anger and pain. Funny, God always answers those kinds of prayers.
God began showing me where my troubled was. I had taken back my rights instead of laying them at the feet of Jesus like I did when I was young. I had let my rooted bitterness come between me and my Jesus. Broken, I fell to my knees in my bedroom and confessed my sin. I died to self and gave up my anger. With Paul’s words, I committed myself anew. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20.) I got up from my confession brand new and alive! Every day since, I confess to God that I’m dead so that I can truly live as He intends.
It’s so worth it! Dying to self allows Christ to live His life through mine. What an exchange! I die to my selfishness, my inabilities to love and serve my family, my meanness, my rights, my lack of faith, my pride and so on. In exchange, Christ gives me His faith, His patience so I can parent my children in the afternoon, His love and compassion for others, His humility, His joy, His peace, His self-control, His life.
What about you? Are you prepared to die? It starts by placing your eternity in the hands of God so you can begin to really live.