Sunday, May 3, 2015

Why Not Me?

Sounds like a strange title doesn't it?

Last weekend I came close to death for the third time in my life, but this last experience was much more sobering.  I was bleeding out.  I won't go through all the medical terminology and case history but needless to say, the Lord got my attention!  In fact, one out of four die from a similar experience.

As I was lying on my hospital bed, the Lord and I had some real heart to heart conversations.  It's during these times that we really get real with the Lord!  The nervousness was present, the confusion was intrusive, and the concerns were heightened.  However, beneath it all was a certain peaceful understanding that God was in control with an understanding that I would praise Him whether or not I recovered.

Now understand, over my past 65 years of living I've conducted innumerable funerals and memorials, bereavement support groups, along with biblical teachings and sermons.  These experiences certainly aid you in contending with your own or a loved one's death, but you can never be fully prepared.  However, there was one question that I never asked yet it appeared on my mental screen.  It was the question, "Why me?"  I wasn't asking this question nor feeling it, it just appeared in front of me, and the Lord gave me a very clear response–"Why not me?"

We will all face death unless we are alive at the Lord Jesus' return.  If death doesn't come now, it will come later, and when that later comes, you may be plagued with the same reality that you just faced.  The feelings I had recently will occur again at a later time.  We can't put off death.

If you're reading this blog, it probably means that you've already faced the death of loved ones.  How does this blog article help the survivor?  Well, in all honesty, no blog article can completely help the bereaved, but maybe it can give a new perspective that will strengthen what remains.

God has left you here for a reason and I will share with you what that reason is in just a moment.  You may see yourself as a victim.  Your loved one who died was also a victim.  We are all victims of our own sin!  The whole reason why we experience death in the first place is because of sin.  From Adam till now, it's the result of mankind's sins that have allowed our bodies to decay and be diseased.

I love what the Apostle Paul writes:

"Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.  But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come the saying that is written, 'DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY, O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH WHERE IS YOUR STING?'" (1 Cor. 15:51-55).

One day, death will no longer exist and we will no longer be the perpetrator and victim of our own sin.  However, that time is not yet.  John expressed this thought so well through the Revelation of Jesus Christ, "And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death;  there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4).   I so look forward to those "first things" disappearing, don't you?

This brings us full circle to the question, "Why am I still here?"  Paul tells us the answer in Philippians,  "For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.  Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don't know which one I should choose.  I am pressured by both.  I have the desire to depart and be with Christ–which is far better– but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you" (1:21-24).  What time you have left should be a living, breathing testimony of the object of your affection–Jesus!

I remember when I was riding in the ambulance, I spoke to both attendants about the Lord.  Every person I spoke to in the hospital I spoke to about the Lord.  Some were cautious, others thrilled.  I also had determined that if this was to be my last day or days on this earth, to live and die as a testimony to the glory and majesty of the Lord, and possibly minister to others with my last dying breath.  I was reminded of Jesus as He ministered to others while on the cross (not that there is any true comparison here).  The Lord just serves as my example.

Dying well is not just a slogan but should be a reality. Paul says there must still be fruitful labor for you to do–people to influence, to love, to minister to.  We are here on this earth to give glory and honor to our Lord.

Years ago I met a lady who was in a bed paralyzed from the neck down.  In my immaturity, I said, "It must be tough to just lie here since you used to be so involved in ministry."

Gently but firmly, she looked me in the eyes and said,  "I'm still doing ministry.  I pray throughout every day for various missionaries all around the world by name, their families, and other brothers and sisters."  I was humbled.  Later, one of the staff shared with me that there were several missionaries who came to see her when they were in the States.  Also that people came to her for prayer for their infirmities and so on.  It dawned on me at that point that her ministries were far more impacting than mine!

I end this blog with the same question I began with, "Why not me?"  May the Lord richly bless you as you live the remainder of your life in praise and honor of Him!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Getting Over It

I spoke with an older woman recently that said she was having difficulty "getting over the death of her husband."

I didn't want to discourage her, but I told her, "You'll never get over that loss."

I know this makes me sound very cold, distant and removed from any supportive ministry, but that's not where the story ends.  If I had left her with those words, that would have indeed been a travesty.  However, my statement to her was shrouded by all sorts of positive affirmation and hope.  My point really was that we never stop loving or missing someone that special to us.  How can we?  And honestly, most, secretly don't want to get over the loss, they just want to get over the pain of the loss.  We never want to stop loving that person we adored while here.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians church, "Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved."  Many scholars feel that "joy" and "crown" have a futuristic view in mind, that Paul is looking forward to their relationship in Heaven.

As believers, we know that relationships don't end here.  One day we will rejoin our believing husband, wife, son, daughter, mother, father and other family and friends.  The nature of the relationship may change some but not the love, devotion or memory.

Life is not about "getting over it."  It's not even about "getting through it."  It's about finding new ways in the Lord to adjust to the loss that we are enduring.  It's about maintaining a hope and a passion for the present and the future.  No, things are not the way we want it right now.  No, we're not happy about what has taken place."  No, we don't want to smile."  I get it and it makes perfect sense to me.

One day you'll be making a very special trip.  When you rekindle that previous earthly relationship, there will be no more losses, no more death and no more sadness.  Hope will no longer exist because your hope will have been transformed into an eternal reality.  Be comforted with these words.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bottom Feeders

May 13th of this year will be one date not quickly forgotten.  We took my Dad into our home and cared for him for two years–the last seven months of which he was on hospice.  It was the first time I ever declined the services of the hospice chaplain, because I was the hospice chaplain.  I had never refused myself before, which brought a smile to my face at the time I did it.  Dad's death in May was a mixture of relief, sorrow, sadness and joy.

The most difficult aspect to the whole process was in watching him die.   For eight days he had neither water nor food.  Not that we didn't try to give him water and food, it's just that his body was shutting down and he no longer required it.  Every two hours we administered pain medication so that he would be in a comfort mode.  Watching him die was brutal!  My prayer was that it wasn't as painful to experience as it was to watch (and listen).

My thoughts quickly went to Mary and Martha in John 11.  They too watched their brother die with no seeming help from the Savior.   It is true that Jesus did a miraculous thing by raising Lazarus from the dead but we need to understand, it was just temporary.  One day Lazarus would die again.  This raising of Lazarus was more to give glory to the Lord and enforce His Son's Messiahship than to give a family a few more good years.  The Bible is clear that all men are appointed to die.  As long as we are in this sinful flesh, it must die or be changed at the Lord's coming.

We need this fresh perspective–I know I did.  Most of us on earth are what I call "bottom feeders."  We have an earthly perspective regarding death and not a spiritual futuristic one.  We often see death as the end of a relationship rather than the prelude to a great and eternal reunion one day.  My daughter-in-law Kat, once used the phrase, "path builders."  Even though the context was about the family moving out of state one day (one family at a time, each paving the way for the next member of the family to follow), it applies well to the sojourn of a loved one.  I best compare it to a trip.  Our loved one packed their bags and headed out on their journey–not to be forever absent, but just gone for a moment, until we will join them.  Then after the celebratory hugs, embraces and love fest, they will share with us all the wonderful things they've discovered while awaiting our arrival.

Whenever you need to come up for some air from the oxygen sucking realm of grief, think on these thoughts.  It might actually help you swim to surface on occasion, seeing beyond the depths of the sea.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Heaven's Lockbox: Finding Eternal Security in an Insecure World

 I think this book would certainly be a blessing for those who are longing to spend eternity with their loved one or do not have assurance of their salvation.  When we know our eternal future is certain, then we can begin to wholeheartedly celebrate our reunion with our loved one who has gone before us.  God bless.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Answer To Our Suffering

This is a question that theologians have been trying to answer since the fall of Adam and Eve.  The book of Job is riddled with various viewpoints on suffering from Job and his friends.  Amazingly, most of those views are alive and well today.

For instance, throughout the ages, there have been many ancient peoples (including ancient Rabbis), who believed in Prenatal Sin.  Notice John 9:2, "And His disciples asked Him, saying, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?'"  Even Jesus' own disciples fell back on old ways of thinking.  There was a predominate belief that babies could even sin in the womb.  As crazy as this sounds, it was a very common understanding (even though false).

When we try to manufacture different viewpoints to address God's allowance of suffering, we come up sounding empty, hollow and devoid of understanding.  In the book of Job, God doesn't answer the Why questions but rather tells Job to trust in the Who.  You see, the solution to our pressing questions is not found in a long alphabetical response but in only one answer.  God tells Job, "I AM the answer!"  That's all we need to know!  If we trust that God knows what's He's doing, knows all and sees all, and loves us; we then respond with trust and then trusting in His understanding and not ours.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review on the book, MICAH, by Dani Ramsey

This is a rare jewel of a story covered with tears, joy and sobering faith. From the heart of a mother whose sole aim is to honor Jesus, remember her son, and heal the broken hearted.  From the wilderness of loss to the joys of spiritual celebration, a mother's heart is on display for the world to see.

This book is a stirring presentation that pain is real, hope is a roller coaster, and God is on the throne.  There is a difference between playing a Christian and being one.  Through all the maze of hurt, sorrow and sadness, a brighter picture appears.  Micah and his family show us that God's faithfulness is greater than our sadness.  

As I was digesting the inspiration of this book, I cried, prayed, and praised The Lord!  I also thanked Him for Micah's awesome family who guided Micah's salvation experience. How blessed Micah was to be surrounded by godly conversations, solid spiritual values, and a Christ-filled family.

Don't be afraid to buy this book, but rather, run to it with open arms, praising Jesus for every valley and mountain that you discover.  After reading this book, you will not remain unchanged.  You will also gain the understanding that in this life, we are just passing through.  Micah, thank you for leaving us an example to follow.  Our reunions in Heaven will forever be changed!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Grief's Untold Stories has enriched my life.  Writing the book was exciting and an adventure with the Lord.  The Holy Spirit directed my thoughts and I became a mere typist.  It was such an exciting ride through faith and discovery.  Several have shared with me the peace that they've experienced after having read the book.  I just praise God for the honor and pleasure to be a part of it and be taken for the spiritual ride of a lifetime.