Life and Death

Seems like the smell of death has been all around us lately, and it stinks. In the matter of 3 weeks, 4 teenage girls died from Sanfilippo. I don’t know if there are more deaths happening, or we Sanfilippo families are doing a better job staying connected. Either way, every time I hear about it, I am reminded of the line I stand in, waiting for my children’s turn.
We are all waiting in line, though, right? We all have a ticket on the ride of death.

Justin’s Grandma Boyce passed away on Saturday. And now, as we plan the funeral, his other Grandma Bakken is in the hospital. His Grandpa Boyce passed away on July 4, 2006….three weeks before the birth of Jayden, and his mentor and Grandpa Bakken, passed away in January 2009, 3 months after our diagnosis. I think when people reach a certain age, we think, they had a good life and it is as expected as death can be. But, it still stinks.

There are 2 new widows in our area. Both women are in their early 30’s.

All this death makes me feel less and less invinciable and I am reminded again of my own ticket.

Life, when looking at death, begins to change. I don’t want to spend my life focused on my ticket or place in line. I don’t want to wait in line. What would my life look like if I stuck my ticket in my pocket and ignored it? I think that is what many of us do, right? We don’t want to think about death….surely not our own death, let alone our husband, wife, children, or loved ones. Why? Becuase we are selfish. We want our loved ones near to us forever. And, that makes sense because that, my friends, is how God wired us. We are supposed to be in a world that feels and smells like life. God says about restoration in Rev 21:4…there will be no death, sadness, crying, or pain, because all the old ways are gone. That, my dear friends, is the world we long for. Although we spend our days trying to create restoration here, it is promised to us only in heaven.

So the more I look at my ticket, I realize that I am not standing in a bad line at all. My ticket is for restoration city, not dungeon of doom. In fact, if there is a way to butt in line ahead of someone, I may just do so. I don’t want to put my ticket in my pocket, I want to keep it where I see it. It reminds me that I died long ago when I became a follower of Jesus. It also reminds me that my days are not guarenteed and I need to spend my time doing what God put me here to do.

God says in Col. 3… So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master. Husbands, go all out in love for your wives. Don’t take advantage of them. Children, do what your parents tell you. This delights the Master no end. Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits. Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly master. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.

Death is only the gate to restoration. So, in my earthly heart I am sad. I am sad for the personal loss of loved ones, and the daily struggle it is for us to navigate this unrestored life without them. Time does not heal all wounds. And the gaping hole that is left when people leave this world, is because we had a little bit of Jesus in them when they were around. God is love so if you loved that person and you can feel them, touch them, smell them….a part of God’s manifestation in them is gone, in a sense when they leave.

I am reminded of two things, Val-a mother I know who’s daughter just turned in her ticket to restoration city at 16, Steffy, said this, “the greatest form of love in non-attachment”. I had to chew on that for awhile, and I agree. To me, it is about letting go. Realizing that your loved one is on their own path and letting them go is a huge way to love them. Take example the disciples in the garden letting Jesus “go”. Or Mary, mother of Jesus, watching her Son be whipped, tortured, broken, and crying out from a Cross, as she let him “go”.

So. I guess it is with mixed emotions that I rejoice and mourn at the same time.

That is one thing I will say, Gladys wanted to go home. She underlined this verse in her Bible. PSALM 100 A psalm. For giving grateful praise.
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

AMEN.

2 thoughts on “Life and Death

  1. Thinking of you and Jut today Stef! I don't have much experience with death but God has blessed me with the strange ability to still feel it's sting…through my friends experiences, through the brokenness of the world, through everything it casts its shadow on COSNTANTLY. Just cried the other day for my dear friend who just lost her sister shortly after she just became a new mom. I cried out to God and said, “Just come now! What are you waiting for?” I LONG for heaven. We were created for so much more than this!

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