Born eighteen months apart, they have been as inseparable as identical twins. Their earliest memories come from the double-wide baby buggy the two of them shared. To the younger brother, his sister has been the one who has loved him best of anyone in the world. She understands him when nobody else seems to have a clue. It is hard to imagine one surviving without the other.
But, as the days grow short, her health is in jeopardy. In his despair, the brother rants about deathbeds and dying, living in anguished anticipation of the day that he will no longer be able to seek the comfort of her presence.
"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof." ---Matthew 6:34
Another sister reminds him that none of us can be certain that he will sleep in his own bed tonight. No one can claim that he will see another morning. We all need a perspective adjustment. Under the curse of sin and death, we are all dying. For some, death comes as a shocking surprise. Others receive advance notice and are blessed with time to prepare.
Yet others recognize that "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." ---Galatians 2:20
With this perspective, we do not face death. We have already died. That is the eternal reality found in God‘s Word. We who have died “early” pass already from death to life.
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." ---Romans 6:3-4
Even so, we do not relish the thought of separation from our loved ones, even temporarily. God created us for community. He assigned to us His ministry of reconciliation, that all may be one with Christ Jesus. But, we all fall short. We miss the mark. We live with the regret of what cannot be erased, what cannot be undone, what we neglected to do. All of that becomes part of the grief we experience. Looking back, which should bring joy and laughter over things remembered, can be an opportunity for the accuser of the brethren to load us down with regret. It is his way of getting our eyes off Jesus.
"For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things." ---1 John 3:20
"For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust." ---Psalm 103:14
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." ---Philippians 3:13-14
All that we have is right now. If we see each moment as a gift to cherish, living in the present in the presence of Jesus and the loved ones He has given us, then our times of separation will be as free of regret as is possible this side of eternity. God grant that we so live.
"Another day is at its close, its joys and sorrows spent. Another night of sweet repose unto the earth is sent.
In Thee, O Lord, my trust I place, no change can Thee befall. My days and nights, filled with Thy grace, by Thee are numbered all.
"Safe in Thy keeping let me be when daylight fades away, And gladly will I worship Thee when dawns another day.
If death this night should summon me, O Jesus, be Thou nigh. Grant that I rest, secure in Thee, whether I live or die."*
*Author unknown, this was the bedtime prayer we learned from our grandparents during summer vacations at their home in the city.
Copyright 2008 by Edy T Johnson
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Edy, that article is so sensitively and beautifully written. I love the way you weave appropriate Scripture verses in so much of what you write, because it gives it authority and also promise. You were blessed with a lovely, caring family and I'm glad you share them with us from time to time. God be with you. Mariane
Wonderful, Edy. As you know, (and I write this for others who read this) I had a gunshot accident just two months ago. All you say here is so true. I want to mention as I was waiting for the ambulance to come, trying to stop the bleeding from my carotid artery, I did not know whether I would live or die but I was given the great gift of the knowledge (feeling, emotion, assurance by God) that if I did die I would stand before my Maker face-to-Face in perfect love, forgiveness, and peace. I had the head knowldge before that time but now it is part of my life.
Death is what I've lived for all my life.
My wife and I have grown so much closer since the accident. Each moment is very precious.
Thank you, Edy, and God richly bless you and your husband.
Oh, Edy....this is written sensitively from the depths of your faith and your life experiences. As you walk this path, thank you for sharing it with us. Some of us have walked it before but appreciate God's light shining with a new perspective. Others have yet to go down that road. But now, perhaps, they have something to illuminate their steps on this difficult journey. Thank you for your wise words of comfort.