Friday, December 7, 2012

You Are Going to Die
I'm not sure how you happened upon this blog post, but I don't think I personally would have made it past the title.  I don't readily click on or read anything that screams out "you are going to die," so I'm not sure what it says about you that you're still reading, but contrary to how it appears, I'm not planning on a morbid post. And by the way, why is it that we are so quick to connect the topic of death with morbidity?  Though the pain and sorrow felt among death's survivors is undeniable, death in and of itself is merely a final doorway to eternity (good news for the one who knows Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior, not so good for those still rejecting Him, which brings us to the point of this discourse.)  I'm on the topic because I recently read the obituary of an old friend from college, and though we lost touch more than a decade ago, I was more than just surprised to learn of his passing; I was troubled.  At just 33 years of age, he left behind a wife and two young children, who will no doubt be struggling through this now bittersweet Christmas season. I look back and remember casually talking to him on the Hendrix College campus, and as I reflect over the memories, I'm reminded of how little we know this side of Heaven about our final day. Fourteen years ago when I knew him, neither of us had any idea that he would die on September 17th of 2012, and as I contemplate the utter uncertainty of death, I can't help but also wonder about my own. As a Christian, I know I'm not supposed to fear death (Psalm 23:4) because it's merely the beginning of my existence as God originally intended it, but the reality is that for many years, I did fear it. I didn't just fear it; I dreaded it, couldn't stand to think about it, and would shut down mentally and emotionally when faced with the reconciliation of it.  That being said, however, I have fortunately learned along my walk with God that I tend to build things up in my mind to be worse than they actually are or will one day be.  What a sweet relief to have finally become aware of my propensity for dramatic exaggeration of life events.  Death isn't to be feared (again, ask yourself whether or not you know Jesus Christ), although I know it can be difficult not to, but like it or not, you are going to die.

I've struggled with this entry more than usual, and for various reasons it has taken me longer to write it than my other posts, but I came across the following Facebook reference the day I started it and I've been determined to finish it ever since:

"If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."~ Dale Carnegie  
Thinking too much about something that scares you makes it bigger than it really is and can paralyze you into never doing it. ACTION makes it so much easier to face that fear. Eat that elephant in small bites or take a major leap of faith and JUMP IN with both feet, arms flying and a smile on your face! - (Get Stronger Girlfriends FB post)

 After I read this, it reminded me of how paralyzed I once was when it came to thoughts of death.  If you've read any of my posts throughout the last couple of years then you might be aware that I used to battle panic and anxiety attacks on a regular basis, but if you ask me how I overcame them, the answer is simple: I took a major leap of faith and jumped into Jesus with both feet, arms flying, and a smile on my face as He lifted me up from where I was.  It was the hardest leap I've ever made, because it was into the arms of a God I barely knew at that time, but it was also the most rewarding; and dying? Well, it's only the beginning.  

I'm not here to tell you what to believe, but I am here to give you the truth (John 8:32) and the truth is you're going to die and go to one of two places.   Though your body may return to dust (Genesis 3:19) six feet below the ground following your death, who you are will live on, and where you reside is a choice you must make (Deuteronomy 30:19; John 3:1-36) while you're still here.  Down one path, you have many mansions (John 14:2) absent of pain, mourning, and tears (Revelation 21:4), while down a much broader path (Matthew 7:13) exists fire (Revelation 19:20), torment, and unrest (Revelation 14:11).  Do you know why one path is narrow and the other broad? I have a friend who once told me that I had it easier because I chose to believe in God, but the truth of the matter is I'm not the one in an easier position.  The reason one path is narrow is because few will choose it when they discover the difficulty that lies within it.  Matthew 7:13-14 says "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." Denying myself, my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), and the desires of my flesh were the hardest decisions I've ever made and continue to try and make each day.  For example, I used to smoke, and there are times when I would love nothing more than to smoke again, but in denying myself that pleasure in obedience to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ("Or, do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's.") I am walking the narrow path, the harder path. So, in my daily journey of living sold out for Jesus Christ, I too struggle to stay on the narrow path, but because it's difficult should I join the masses on the broad path instead? Your rejection of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world and specifically your heart and soul, doesn't make you stronger or more intelligent; it makes you just like everyone else walking the broad path.  

 It's easy to walk the broad path, and I know it's easy because I've walked it, jogged it, ran it, and even crawled it.  I have given in to the lusts and temptations that the world offers, and paid dearly for it.  I have lied, cheated, and sinned just like everyone else, and to this day I fight temptation still, and probably more so than I did before, but the difference between then and now is in my heart. A day came when I had to choose between continuing to live according to truth as I knew it, or lay down what I knew and embrace the truth of God's Word. I chose His Word.  I remember, though, when I didn't.  In fact, I outright rejected Him as non-existent during one of my religious exploratory journeys through college.  My ego assured me I knew best and the Bible was merely a fun collection of stories to be read for entertainment purposes only.  However, after coming face to face with the reality of my own mortality through a rape, a should have been fatal car wreck, and near death experimental drug use, all occurring in my early twenties, I had to consider the possibility that my wisdom alone was insufficient.  There had to be more.  

Maybe you've not had any traumatic experiences that led you to question whether or not you need a Savior, but I assure you on the truth and validity of God's Word (2 Timothy 3:16) that you do, and it is certainly not His will that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9), so if you don't know Him or have spent your life rejecting, Him, yet you find yourself here reading this, then know that it's not your time to die. He has graciously extended you another day in hopes that today will be the day you choose to believe.  Choose Jesus Christ. Choose life.  

"That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture says, 'whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame...For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:9-11, 13).  



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