For Whom the Bell Tolls
Whenever people think of a new year themes of life and living are the first to come to mind….Mine began a little differently, it began with death. Death has gotten sort of a bad wrap for Christians in my opinion. Whenever you look at world how sees death it is always about avoiding it, humanity even tries its damnedest to overcome death through medicine and science. One fact that cannot be denied is that everybody dies. For the Christian this should be a joyous thing when a believer passes, they made it, their time is done, they finished the race, and perfection has come. Yes we have the right to mourn, but one can have as much joy in tears as what they can laughter. This is not the end, and for the believers who go to the be with the Lord before us, who carried on in His name to the end, we should be convicted and convinced by the lives they lived.
An Unlikely Adventure
Some context. A few days ago I called a professor of mine about getting together. After a little chit chat he said “Want to go with me to a funeral?” I thought ” That is a new one.” and then said “Sure!.” I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Let me preface all of this by saying that no matter how tough I act, how much I pretend to through reason be above it all, on the inside I can truly be as sensitive as the best of them. After traveling through a snow storm, which in fact was almost the death of myself and all parties along, we arrived at this funeral, which to be fair turned out to be a memorial instead. From what I gathered the difference is, one has a body, the other does not. As I sat in a church where I am sure each Sunday is equipped with lots of coffee and a pastor wearing blue jeans, as well as the obligatory black rimmed glasses, I listened to many give their testimony and messages about someone they deeply knew, whom I knew nothing about. Listening to the people and looking around the rather large auditorium I realized one consistent pattern as each person spoke; this woman impacted A LOT of people, or to be more accurate Christ impacted a lot of people through this woman. Sitting there I found myself laughing, crying, and all around emotionally invested in hearing about this lady, this sister in the Lord, whom I have never met, and never knew anything about before today. All in all this lady lived a significant and full life, and from the sound of it, lived more in one year than many do eighty. Now you may wonder what made her important, what did she do in which so many gathered, remembered, and ultimately gave testimony to her life? The only answer I can come up with is that she was nothing more than a believer, living a life not a lifestyle, completely devoted to our Lord Jesus Christ, her position in Him and in that she was and did everything. As far as I am aware She was not a full time missionary, world renowned speaker, not a famous theologian, nor a Christian writer, or anything like that really, just a woman pursuing God, in Christ, whose life was about nothing more than to know Him and make Him known. This lady did more in her daily Christian life than many do in years of official ministry and with each and every person who stood up to speak ,it became more apparent that she walked the very thing she talked. Whether it was the past neighbor who came to know Christ because of through this lady, or the fact that even near death she showed no comfort in material things, only in Christ, I do not know how one could sit in that room and not be challenged.
“Life is Wasted on the Living”
Life is short, just ask anyone who has lived it. Every second we spend living for ourselves is another second we could have for Him. How dare we waste it! We allow ourselves to become bound by so much temporal junk, we miss that the time we have here is limited and going by fast. Media becomes more important than ministry, comfort more of a priority than Christ. And do not think for a second I am not preaching to myself also, because I most certainly am! So why write about this, what made any of the events which took place today, now two days ago actually,(I have been distracted) worth the time to write about?
Hearing about and seeing the completion of a person who lived in Christ, who finished the race, is as convicting as it is convincing. To start with the convictions, seeing the work of Christ in another is a good way to expose lack of His work in yourself. I am not talking about comparison, but the Holy Spirit saying “Hey, your life is inconsistent in your position in Christ, certain aspects do not line up with Him, let’s figure this out.” and sometimes you listen to it, others times not so much. I get so caught up in what is going to happen, what God is going to do, I miss that which is happening and what He is presently doing. I see the pinnacle of life as writing a book, serving in a ministry, getting a doctorate, marriage, and a plethora of other future elements, instead of being faithful in the daily ones, in what He has given me to be faithful in right now. Some people call this “being faithful in the little things”, but the way I reckon it the so called “little” things is what we have trouble with the most, begging the question, maybe they really are not that little? I miss the opportunities to be and to grow in the person He has made me in Christ, because I become distracted from all the things I have made my life about, apart from Him. Living Christ, as I have said over and over, is a life and not a lifestyle, and if we are serious about pursuing Him, we either have to be all in, or not at all. At the end of our lives, which for any of us can be at any moment, will it be said that we lived as He lived, or that we died as living for nothing more than ourselves.
Not only was this memorial I attended convicting, but it was also extraordinarily convincing, especially of how possible it is to live a life in full pursuit of Christ until the end. Anybody can talk about staying the course or running the race as a new believer, even as a believer with many years behind them, but to do so all the way to death is a whole different feat entirely.When a person is alive their life could go any direction, sure they may be a believer now, but what if they do not follow through, what if they get to the end of their life and came to the conclusion that none of it was worth it? Living and breathing people always leave open the possibility for failure, the chance they will abandon the Christian life, but the truth one’s life who has gone to be with the Lord speaks, shows believers they too can do it. Seeing someone who lived the Christian life, who grew in Christ all the way to their deathbed, nothing can be a more convincing testimony to the reality of what it means to be a Christian. This road gets long and hard. There are many days where I want to give up, quit and feeling around defeated, so hearing the testimony of one who pressed on, who was an example of following through in their faith, even on the dark and lonely roads, encourages me and should encourage you that we too can do it. I am further convinced and for the start of a new year, convincing is something all of us could use a little extra of.
While it is true we only live once, death is only the beginning of this life Christ has given us, so let our lives, where we are now ,be a testimony to where we are going.