How Do You Hope to Die?

Maybe this seems like a morbid topic, but for all of us, death may not be imminent but it is certain.  I lost a close family member recently — he died unexpectedly, in his sleep.  I said to my husband, “isn’t this the best way to die?  No drawn out painful last illness, no time to dwell on what we’ve lost or won’t get to accomplish.”   His answer was, “not really.  I think I would prefer to have a chance to say good bye and tell people all the things I hadn’t gotten around to saying.”

That made me remember Jesus.  He knew he was going to die.  He told his disciples clearly, over and over, although they never seemed to quite believe Him.  On his final day he took some specific actions:

  • He spent time in fellowship with his loved ones, the disciples.  He clearly planned this ahead of time, securing a place for the Passover Supper. (Luke 22:8-13)
  • He washed their feet, as a way to emphasize once more the important values of humility, sacrifice and service he had been trying to each them. (John 13:13-17)
  • He established an important tradition that would continue to evoke His presence with them and love for them. (Mark 14:22-25)
  • He prayed for them, and for the believers who would come after them. (John 17:1-26)

We’re not Jesus and we don’t know exactly when our last day will arrive:

“No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death.”  Ecclesiastes 8:8

However, in all things, we should strive to imitate Him.  John tells us:

“By this we may be sure that we are in him:  whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way as he walked.”  1 John 2:5-6

Death is a sure thing.  Let’s focus on Jesus and make our death a good one, whenever it comes. Say and do the things that are important, now.  Don’t wait.

For more about death see these posts:

The Darkness of Death

“Even unto death”

Your Dash

 

 

 

Live and Learn

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1

Sometimes we use the fact that we are not “gifted” in a particular way as an excuse.  We tell ourselves that we shouldn’t bother to witness, offer acts of service, or show mercy because it isn’t our “gift.”  This is wrong and not Biblical.  Our individual gifts will be our serving “sweet spot” — they will show us where to concentrate our efforts.  That doesn’t mean we can never do things that are outside of our natural comfort zone. Living the Christian life means learning and growing.

One way to do this is observe those with a particular spiritual gift and imitate them.  I have several friends with the gift of hospitality.  I may never be able to match their effectiveness and joy in opening my home to others;  but I can watch and learn.  I can take note of how they try to make their guests comfortable and welcome and I can try to incorporate some of those things into my own life.  I can take some steps in the direction of becoming a more hospitable person.

I have another friend who once talked to be about how she had taken care of her mother when she became elderly and ill.  She said she came to realize that God gave her that opportunity so she could learn to be a better servant.  She has the gift of mercy.  I don’t, but when I faced the same situation with my mother, her words encouraged me and helped me to see unpleasant tasks as an opportunity instead of a chore.

My husband has the gift of teaching.  I don’t.  But I have learned some of his techniques by many years of sitting in his classes.  When I need to step up and lead a Sunday School class, I do not have his poise and natural style of delivery, but I do have the gift of knowledge, and I can work to impart that to others.  In the same way, my husband does not have a natural gift of encouragement, but he has seen me send cards and notes and give hugs, and he reminds himself that sometimes these things are good to do even if it’s not his natural inclination.

In the verse above, the apostle Paul tells the Corinthians to imitate his life, just as he is trying to imitate Christ.  We too should find godly people within our church and strive to imitate them.  Remember the story of the little boy with the small number of loaves and fishes?  Jesus used his small gift to feed 5000!  Give your willing gift, however small, to Christ and he will multiply it and use it to bless others.

In the Direction of the Cross #2

I’ve always liked this hymn, often used on Palm Sunday, which encourages all Christians to follow Christ’s way, in the direction of the cross.

 

A Prayer of Personal Dedication (Obedience)

This prayer is from the Via de Cristo Pilgrim’s Guide, so some of you will recognize it.

Lord of my life, I know that my life is not my own.  By your death and resurrection you made me your own.  Help me to live under your direction, always ready to hear the call, “Follow Me;”  always aware of your presence;  always knowing that I have received the gift of your Spirit;  always living so that others may receive your love and mercy through me.

It is not easy to ask for these things, Lord because I know I have much to give up.  I can no longer pretend that my life is my own.  My prayer is my surrender to your care and direction.  I want to follow, Lord, but it is very hard.  I will get very tired.  I will make selfish mistakes.  I will fail time and again.  I will fall.

Show me again that there is love and mercy in your hand.  Use me in spite of my reluctance, doubt and disobedience.  Pour into me your good Spirit, so that I am not afraid to follow and fall and follow again.  Amen

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