I was a teenager before I had to face the death of someone close to me.
The first death I recall in our family was when my great-grandmother Porter died at the tender age of 101. I was 16 at the time.
Before that the toughest childhood encounters I had with the Grim Reaper were when favorite pets died. Like Pete the parakeet. This guy was special. Mama used to let him out of his cage to flitter around the room. He could talk a bit, and if you clapped you hands he would fly to your shoulder and even put birdseed in your ear.
Once when my little brother was getting a spanking, Pete dive-bombed mama. We should have outfitted him with little bombs to protect us.
But one day I was going outside and I didn’t see him when he tried to follow me. As the door was opening he crashed into it, knocking his bird brains out.
Boy, that one was tough and I even prayed for a resurrection, but death is a part of life and little boys begin to learn that.
Since those days, death has visited several people I loved very much. And honestly, I can’t say that I’ve made peace with the idea. It still hurts. It ends relationships that you treasure until you meet the person again in heaven. Memories are powerful and important but they can’t fully fill the void.
I’ve discovered a powerful principle in my spiritual life, though—I can’t really live until I die. Generally I do everything I can to avoid “death” because it hurts and it puts an end to my own strength and sufficiency. But death followed by resurrection brings me into another dimension, the dimension of God’s power. As long as I can operate without God, I’ll do the best I can do. But faith is one step beyond what I can do.
“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.”( Heb. 11:17, NIV)
Isaac was the most important thing in Abraham’s life, after God. God had promised to bless the whole world through Isaac. Then one day the Lord rocked Abraham’s world by calling for Isaac’s life.
The old man didn’t understand, but he knew he had God’s promise for this child, so he laid him on the altar of sacrifice. Just before he plunged the knife into the boy’s chest God stopped him. But in Abraham’s heart the act was already done. Isaac was dead and God had given him life again.
Don’t ever forget this: When Isaac is on the throne of our life, he’s an idol, even if he came to us by a miracle of God. When Isaac is on the altar of sacrifice, he’s a blessing for us and the whole world.
I remember when the Lord asked me for my children. We had served four years in Luxembourg and were getting ready to return from the USA to Luxembourg for four more years.
In my heart I thought that those next four years would finish my missionary service because our children would begin to leave home after that and I couldn’t imagine being in Europe while my kids were in the States.
Then one night God challenged me in a soul-shaking way to put Him first in my life. In a moment of “death” I told him, “Lord, I can’t do it. I’m not strong enough but if you’ll give me strength (life) I’ll stay as long as you ask me to. But the minute your strength finishes I’m out of here.”
I’ve been running in the life that the Lord gave me that night for 22 years now. And those kids? God has blessed them abundantly and they’ve given me more joy than I could imagine, probably even more than if I could see them every day, like I wish I could.
When we die to our way, trusting God to keep His word, we live again in his strength. So many times we think that our dreams and hopes are finished but they’re just going through the death/life process.
It seems that at some point nearly every worthwhile thing I’ve ever done had a moment when it seemed dead. Then I looked to the Lord and he gave it his life.
It’s the principle of the Cross. The most hopeless day in history seemed to be when the Son of Life breathed his last breath on the Cross. Friday … but as someone aptly noted … Sunday is coming!
God’s way is death, followed by his life. The principle of the Cross pervades everything He does.
Maybe you’re mourning a “death.” Don’t be too quick to pronounce the affair finished. There may be something germinating under the soil.
“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” (John 12:24-25, The Message)
“One great hindrance is lack of need. If God blesses you with need He will bless you with faith, and faith works best in really desperate need.” — Watchman Nee