It may come as a surprise to you that death used to scare me...and scare me deep. But perhaps that fear isn't as uncommon. I'm sure others fear it too.
That's what it was alright...a deep-seated fear of what the end would be like...would I die suddenly? Or would I die slow? Would it happen in dramatic fashion? Or would it be a gradual decline of body and mind?
I would hear the stories of those who went quickly in an accident and think, good gracious! What a horrible way to go! I don't want to go that fast! I'd have too many goodbyes to say!
I would hear stories of those who slowly died out like a flickering candle and I'd say, my goodness! What a terrible way to go too! Loved ones have to watch you slip away and you have all this time on your deathbed to think on your life...and your regrets! I'd fear greatly that my regrets would far out-weigh my successes.
I would even get superstitious about posting a quote to this blog about death or writing something regarding it in my journal....simply because of the stories of others' parting words.
How will I go? The question haunted me for years. As I've said goodbye to many souls who passed on, it has kept coming back to me time and again. Of course, I've always known that God only has the foreknowledge of my time of departure from this earth and yet, I was never at peace with when the end might come. I feared it greatly.
The fact that I am posting about this topic indicates a conquering of this fear in a way. And I've come to a deeply comforting conclusion...
The reason I was afraid to die was this...I didn't know how to live.
During those many years that I dreaded the ending to my story, I now see that I had no idea what my story was. I didn't understand my purpose in this world to begin with. All I could see was the time flying by...the years passing swift...and only endless questions about what to do with myself between now and the final end. I had not yet learned how to love deeply...how to gain the most from every caring connection in this short life and how to cherish the heart-felt exchange of human relationships. I had not yet learned how to let go...to realize that not every friendship, not every loved one, not every opportunity stays with you forever...and that sometimes, turning loose and moving on is the best thing. I had not yet learned how to see through to God...how to accept the mercy and grace of my Maker and how to see myself as His dear one. Life had no excitement in that it held no wonder. Thus, I didn't understand how to slow time down and savor the gifts along the journey that speak of His love.
All of these (and more) are what it means to live. But because I was a walking dead thing in the soul, that's all I could think of...the morbidness of it all. I just wanted to stop frantically searching for a purpose and hope I could find joy before this one life ended.
Years later, when God opened my eyes to the amazing bliss of taking in His countless blessings, I came to see that I was wasting time when I could've been savoring it. All my crazy searching had gotten me nowhere quickly when, all I really needed, was Him. And once I had that, I had everything. Once I began the journey to Grace, life took on a whole new pleasure. Things that I once took for granted became deeply special. Daily wonders abounded as the little things became messengers to me of His goodness. I came alive.
In time, I found it easy to discover my purpose and my path...because it led through Him. His direction somehow made it all alright. It didn't matter if my plans were changed...all I cared about what doing my one life well. And I discovered I couldn't do that without Him.
Now, as I throw myself into the daily duties of following Him and serving others, I find that it seems as if I'm gaining time. The years keep marching on, but I'm getting more out of every moment than ever before. I'm not afraid of dying anymore because I've learned how to live. And I bless God that He's kept me on this earth long enough to learn this valuable lesson.
Death doesn't scare me anymore. That fear has left. And what's been given it its place is delight. Honest-to-goodness delight that savors all as gift from His hand. I don't know when the end will be for me (or even you, for that matter)...but I do know this: if I have done my very best to make this one little life count, than my passing will only be an entrance into the fulfillment of all I've ever wanted or needed...to be forever with Him.