Beyond the Old Winter Coats

new life

You know what I felt compelled to do the other day?

I opened my Bible up to the notes sections and wrote down two songs I’d like to be played at my memorial service…songs and words and ideas I want the loved ones in my life to remember and cling to as they remember me. A third song came to mind as I started writing this post. “Lord I Need You”  by Matt Maher.

And, then, I stopped writing for a few minutes, listened to that beautiful song again and cried.

I also stopped writing for a few minutes because I struggled with how I was going share the words on my heart this morning.  I know the death subject makes some folks uncomfortable.  I know there are people who would just prefer not to think about it. I know some people who have probably even stopped reading this post because of the topic. I also know people who might even consider me a Debbie Downer if I were to bring the subject of death up in a conversation.  But that’s not how I feel about death.

Death is the one thing we all have in common. Why don’t we openly talk about it more?  I’ve wondered this for years and years now. It’s one of those uncomfortable topics we need to be willing to think about.

I remember, decades ago, when I was in my first semester of nursing school (back when I considered taking the nursing career path)  listening to one nursing teacher talk about death.  She said that young folks, like most of us in the class, have this invincible mentality. She said that it’s hard for people “our age” to understand the concept of death. As I listened to her talk, I found myself getting angry with her on the inside.

Listen lady, my mom died three months ago, she’s gone.  I think I “get” death.  I think I completely understand that my days on this earth are numbered. 

I know the teacher was making a valid point, it just hit way too close to home that morning.

It’s interesting to me, when I look back on that season in my life, even though I “got” death how I then proceeded to spend a whole decade running in the wrong direction after my mom’s death.

Pain will prompt you to do some crazy things sometimes.

One of my favorite parts of Scripture to read can be found in the Book of John. I find myself revisiting this book over and over.  Personally, there is something so beautiful about Jesus telling us that He is the Bread of Life.  This morning, as I read through chapter 6 again, a familiar thought crossed my mind: This whole section is too crazy not to be true.  Maybe that’s why I love it so much. It’s the crazy stuff like this in the Bible that actually deepens my faith.  It’s what I like to call a you can’t make this stuff up section in the Bible.  I read these passages and my heart simply knows that the words Jesus is speaking are the Truth.  I guess this is part of the Holy Spirit’s job in our life, isn’t it; to make sense of the nonsensical.

This morning I spent some time reading John 6 in the Message version again. I love this:

Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.

“This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.” John 6: 35-40

This is why I don’t mind talking about death. This is why I feel compelled to live with one eye fixed on eternity. Death, in relationship with Christ, is not the end, it’s a new beginning. Ultimately, it’s not an exit door, it’s an entry way.

It’s the foyer to forever. 🙂

PS:  I thought about that well-known wardrobe in the C.S. Lewis classic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I want to be like Lucy who had the faith and the curiosity to look for, reach out, and take hold of the beauty that lies beyond the old winter coats.

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