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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Peaceful Dying

 I sat at a memorial service for a friend, and I pondered the concept of death. For many years, death bothered me. The idea of someday passing from this earth kept gnawing at me…not in a "go spend your life well" sort of way but rather a "I'm afraid and I don't know what it will be like" sort of way. It troubled me incessantly. I couldn't escape this ever-present feeling of my life rapidly passing me by and my impending departure looming large. Morbid, I know. But it was a true reality that I never could make peace with. That is, until now. Right now. In a small church in Alaska as loved ones bid their goodbyes to a man well-liked and beloved. 
 As the stories about him were shared and the hymns rang loud in the church, I heard it spoken in my soul: you've been afraid of dying because you did not know how to live. No wonder you felt like life was passing you by! You did not understand how to redeem time, how to make the blessings count. How to love. How to breath and to thank Him for the daily miracles. If you knew how to live, you would know how to die. If you didn't love this fallen world and it's fleeting possessions so much - if you truly loved Him more - then would you welcome your entrance into the eternal glory He is preparing for you. But He will not take you until you have touched the very last soul you are meant to impact. He will not tell you that the race has ended for you until you have accomplished what He placed you on earth to do. You must fulfill your mission. You must live your one life well. 
  I fall into the Grace that has spoken such words of hope to me. The fear leaves, and I suddenly see it clearly: A life well lived has nothing to regret. One who has run the race faithfully sees only the beginning and the realization of a long-awaited reward. Perhaps my lack of understanding has not so much to do with the ending as the now…the right here. The today. If I lived as I am intended to live, time just might become more valuable. The lives around me might become more precious. I might notice God and the ways He loves - I might see more often. 
  Only recently, three friends of mine became part of God's family. Yes, I say. Yes there is time. There are still lives to influence and there are ways to be sanctified,  and there is work to do for Him! As the service comes to a close and the timeless lyrics of "I'll Fly Away" fill the small church, I think of eternity. I think of the reality I shall one day experience forever. And I sense a peace that I still have time. I have time enough to live my one life well.