I am amazed at my own heart’s capacity for joy and love and sorrow. And this is life; to push the boundaries of what is love, to break the boundaries of what was joy, and to feel the depths of sorrow and not be broken because Christ is with us and helps us to do all things well. I recently had a lifetime friend pass away. It is a reminder of my own brevity. Waiting to die is contemplative, a little depressing if you grieve what will not be, but not without joy for the believer.
Death has a way of reminding us of what is important.
While remembered words from our loved ones can never make up for the loss of their presence–they can, for us in mortal coils, be an Ebenezer (a memorial or alter of remembering) used to convey and facilitate the worship of our Maker. These black and white words, while not eternal, can be carried far into the future beyond the speaker’s initial audience to have a gravitas and substance that touches multitudes.
While it is true I am no one of consequence to history and have no great accolades to proclaim my merit, yet, if I have lived and there is some measurable amount of time where I have walked with God then that connection changes everything. The testimony from a Saint of God becomes a very powerful thing.
This joy of knowing my Savior and my relationship with Jesus, is the thing that means the most to me. It is what gives me greatest joy and provides the most strength. It is the one thing I wish for everyone–especially family, friends, and neighbors. It is the only way to be truly happy in life.
The circumstances surrounding the death of our loved ones can be hard to understand. Yet, God is not a hard task master in death. He does not take joy in our suffering. The death of His Saints are precious to Him, and He has taken care of them from beginning to end and into the life to come. They are always with Him.
I hope that someday those who had been around me will say that because I was in their life they were more open to God and His calling. I hope that my testimony will cause them to seek to know God in a greater way and be exclusively obedient to Him.
It can be incredibly difficult to accept but we are not in charge. We do not even ultimately have power over our own lives. We do not know what is best, and we can never say anything on our own authority. We must receive from God what He gives and trust His loving character and sacrifice. We want so much to control the circumstances of our life but we are shown again, and again that we will always turn up short. Our need to control stems from fear and a lack of faith. But there is a better way. It can be difficult to trust the Lord when we feel the pain of loss but it is important to know that even when it hurts, our tears will not be wasted and ultimately everything will turn out for our good.
I remember asking my great-grandmother at the end of her life if she was ready and wanting to die. Her health had declined rapidly, she was in a lot of pain, and obviously close to death. She was in my eyes, extremely old and extremely pitiful in her situation. I had heard many times from others that, ‘sometimes it was better for people to die,’ so I wondered if she felt the same way. She articulated well that she would likely never really want to die (because that is in us all) but that it was likely inevitable (unless you are that blessed, chosen generation). She also let me know that she was ready and could die in the hope of God’s salvation. I had seen her live and love Christ well, and I believe she was ready. If I have Christ, He is enough.
It’s acceptable to grieve the loss of my well laid plans or my hopes and dreams for the future. But we must never forget that, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Jesus was the first-fruits, He is our guarantee of salvation and a bodily resurrection. He went first–conquering the grave! I think too often we live with the understanding that, to live is gain, to die is Christ. This is what we focus our hearts on the here and now as if it will last forever and trust that what lies beyond the grave Christ has taken care of.
To live and live well, is to live Christ. To be walking with Christ and becoming like Him through the Spirit’s work in us. To die is a blessing and gain for the believer for we will finally be with the God we love. What a difference in perspective!
Life is not solely about the trips we take or the self-imposed “journey” we’re on. It’s not about our hopes and dreams. It is not about successes, how much power or prestige we can accumulate or the respect we are given. Life is not about walking in health. What we can do or how we can feel. Life is not about our families, our children, or even our legacy. Life is not even solely about the people or ministries we serve because life is not about us.
Life is about God–the worship of the Creator, by His created.
And when worship of God is our aim in life we are graciously given love, excitement, and joy beyond any bounds because we know and experience the ONE who made us.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” Psalm 73:26
Written by Melanie Barnfield. Melanie Barnfield is an artist, closet introvert, wordsmith, and lover of Christ. She has been married 14 years to the love of her life, and has been blessed with 5 beautiful children. Residing in Benton, IL, she is an avid reader who enjoys teaching, gardening, and photography.