Once I attended a memorial service for a friend who had died from a hard-fought battle with cancer. As friends and family eulogized her and talked about her thoughtful ways, her strong faith in God, her zest for life, etc... I thought about how I had seen God work out His redemption in her life over the years: she had overcome a painful divorce, beaten cancer once already, and so much more. It occurred to me that there is a redemptive side to every person's life, if only they are willing to receive it. Like the beautiful lilies that bloomed at the front of the church, we each can be given the gift of renewal, but only when we are open to the One who gives it.
Some people close themselves off to Grace and are actually dead long before they ever reach the grave. They may live long lives, yet they never see that redemptive side come to be. They go from the beginning to the end as broken, hurting, bitter souls that never truly lived.
In contrast, there are those that may pass through a dying of sorts: to self, to ambition, to falsehoods, but at a later time, they experience a renewal of the soul. The grave is not really an end for them, only a new beginning. They have learned to live fully. Like this friend. Cancer and death were not the ones to have a final say. She passed from living into another living - from a mere hope into a full-blown reality. She was open to God's restoration. She died living.
When the time comes for me, may I be found doing the same...