Last night in Church service we were singing some of the old hymns – He Lives, Old Rugged Cross, and others having to do with Christ’s death and resurrection. The joy and the spiritual power of the wisdom and love for God in them just overwhelmed me, and I was singing along in the Spirit rejoicing and praising. Such times are the greatest times of joy for me in here, when I am closest to having true peace and rest. When the Holy Spirit fills me with intimate love and joy and worship for my Abba Father, and I am swept away in adoration and gratitude for Him simply being Himself.
While I was singing, I was meditating on death and what it means to a Christian who is intimate with the glory of God. The passage in 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 was running in my mind, the phrase, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” consuming my thoughts. After the songs they asked for testimonies, and I of course stood up and said what was on my heart.
Again, the joy of the Lord filled me with wholesome and pure happiness when I was up there testifying to His goodness and His grace. It’s like nothing else to speak of Him, and I just have to share it with you.
I told them how a few weeks ago a friend of mine mentioned how a plane had crashed into the ocean, killing all the passengers, and how horrible a death that would be, knowing that in a few minutes you were about to die. I pointed out that we will all die, and we all know it. He said he preferred a quick death. Suddenly, in a flash, I realized something awesome.
I would LOVE to die like that. To know that in a short time I am about to die – to be able to see the countdown of my life drawing nearer to the end… of the beginning. See, I’ve always loved progress bars (ask my family: I’m addicted to watching downloads), and I’m also a big fan of the anticipation part of receiving gifts. That’s half the fun! And what greater gift, what more amazing blessing, than to at last behold my Saviour’s face? What greater arrival is there than our arrival at the last Home? So why not enjoy the anticipation?
I’m not entirely sure I want a lingering death (though I’m sure God would give me the grace to glorify Him in the pain), but an anticipated one I dearly long for. I want to die in a way that I know I am about to do so. I want to look death in the face and laugh and praise God. I want to savour unwrapping that present. I am excited to be able to go Home to my God, and I want to linger over that moment of finally stepping into His arms.
I say I want these things, I say I desire and long for these things, and a lot of people might say that’s a beautiful testimony. Others might shake their heads, tsk tsk in a gently remonstrative manner, and kindly but firmly remind me that we can’t know until we’re faced with it. That I shouldn’t boast about what I haven’t met yet. I totally disagree.
I know and am absolutely assured in God that He always gives grace to meet the need. Every time, no exception. No matter what trial we face, no matter what the circumstances are, we can rest in total peace that He is there in sufficient measure to carry us through to His glory. He never leaves us in the lurch. Now, I know this, and you know this, but how do we know that we will take advantage of that grace? Because after all, we do tend to mess things up pretty bad with our free will in things. In fact, however much latitude God gives us in things, that’s about how much latitude is taken for errors and mistakes. We are pretty pitiful – so even if I can trust God… how can I trust me to trust Him when it matters most? Will I turn to Him or to myself in a pinch? * panic *
I’ve always wondered that, and had a great deal of anxiety over it. And the eradication of that fear has been one of the greatest gifts God has given me through this whole trial. I have learned that God comes through not only in providing the grace necessary, but in also helping me take advantage of that grace. How do I know that I will be able to face death calmly and unflinchingly? Because I knew that I would be able to face arrest, conviction, sentencing, taunts, threats of physical harm, violent mockery, and the loss of everything and everyone I hold most dear on this planet with equanimity and faith – and I did. I saw the potentials of each of these things before they happened (sometimes months in advance, sometimes days, sometimes minutes) and I trusted God to make sure that I would honor Him in my response, and I did. I have looked men in the eyes who would like nothing better than to beat me to a pulp, and who were seriously considering doing so, and I loved them. I wasn’t bitter towards them. I witnessed to them. That is nothing, absolutely nothing but God.
Never has He failed me. Never have I sought His face and He turned it from me. In the depths of despair He met me and held me. In the height of fleshly anger He touched me and cooled me. All because He has revealed His glory to me so powerfully that nothing else can touch my love and devotion to Him.
So turn to Him. Trust Him. Seek Him. You can be sure that He will be there for you when you need Him. Every. Time.
Love Him for it.