Oldie but goody delivered to the congregation in January 2009.
My life is not my own. You, Lord Jesus are in control.
On Christmas Day 2008, I hung between life and eternity. In your sovereignty, you held my next breath literally in your hand. I remember praying in my last conscious moment, “Lord protect my body.” It is the last thing I remember from that morning.
In the aftermath of two incidences of respiratory failure, I am left with an indelible truth: assurance of anything is only in you.
You, Lord of the universe hold everything in place. As it is written in Colossians, you hold all things together.
With the assurance I have, comes my trust in you. I know that I can surrender my will and the control of my life to you. I know that I can obey what you have commanded me and I will not be ashamed. I know that you will complete the work that you have begun in me. There is no failure in you, only your perfect will.
I remember sitting in my hospital room thinking ruefully of how close I came to death. I remember thinking also of how close I was to eternity with you. I thought of Paul the Apostle, ministering though pressured by threats of execution on one side and pondering the blessed hope on the other. “To live is Christ, to die is gain,” as it is written in Philippians 1:21. He rested in the assurance he had in you and found peace.
As you know, Father, I am daily buffeted by mortal weariness. You see my life is full of daily humbling discomfort. I desire eternity while settled into mortality. I am so glad that choice on Christmas morning was in your hands.
We believers have a strange relationship with death. We appear to hang on to fragile, limited mortality and fear eternity even though we know by your word that nothing in this life can equal heaven with you.
We mourn the loss of our loved ones who know you but forget that they have gone to be with you, the main point of salvation in the first place. Some in the pain of grief even find themselves hating you.
But I know you are good.
I remember when my mama died. She had suffered for several years with great pain. On the day she went to be with you she was ready. You touched my heart that day and planted a seed of understanding. Instead of hate, I praised you. I knew my mother was going to be with you and have no more pain. The grinding sadness was tempered with the knowledge that because of your sacrifice, I will see her again and she will healthy and glorified. I also know she would never desire to leave the light of you for the darkness of this world.
Sometimes the loss is unexpected, sudden, or early in the expectations of man. In these times we are left grasping for understanding. We can’t see what you know eternally. We only know that the person we love and depend on is gone. In these times we need to remember your goodness.
We may not understand the work of your hand, but we can by your grace trust your heart.
In my own seemingly endless pain and travail I praise you daily and lift your name before the congregation. I worship you when I don’t feel like it and marvel at how you bow my heart at your throne and increase my strength to press on.
I have fellowship in your suffering and know the power of your resurrection.
I have in my heart the blessed hope that someday all the pain will be gone and all the tears wiped away. I also know that it will be in your time.
I know that life in you has no down side. To live is Christ, to die is gain. I live, I serve you, I glorify you, I am blessed. I die, I go to be with you in the indescribable splendor of heaven to worship you always.