Posts Tagged ‘Death’

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QUOTE (Richard Baxter) – Dec. 8

December 8, 2015

220px-Richard_Baxter_Colour“You come hither to learn to die, I am not the only person that must go this way: I can assure you, that your whole life, be it ever so long, is little enough to prepare for death. Have a care of this vain deceitful world and the lusts of the flesh: Be sure you choose God for your portion, heaven for your home, God’s glory for your end, his word for your rule, and then you need never fear but we shall meet with comfort.”
~ Richard Baxter

In honor of Richard Baxter, an English Puritan Theologian, who died on this day in 1691.

“O what a blessed day that will be when I shall . . . stand on the shore and look back on the raging seas I have safely passed; when I shall review my pains and sorrows, my fears and tears, and possess the glory which was the end of all!”
~ Richard Baxter

Resources:
This Day in History for 8th December
Goodreads > Richard Baxter Quotes

 

 

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“When I wish I’d never been born…” – Feb 6

February 6, 2015

“Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire? Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse? For then I would have lain down and been quiet; I would have slept; then I would have been at rest,…” Job 3:11-13

English: It was a 'dark and stormy night' ... ...

A sleepless mind fills with thoughts from visions of the night. The assault of daily troubles awaits the cover of darkness when conscious defenses teeter upon dreams. Thoughts are brought in stealth. Ears receive the whisper of a powerlessness to remedy what tomorrow holds. Trouble weighs the sleepless mind to suffocating depth in the same feathery pillow meant to comfort.

…man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.  (Job 5:7)

Trapped by troubles, exhaustion breeds dread into a desperate groan for release. Thoughts are conjured in this state of malaise that no stalwart practitioner of manliness will ever confess.

“If only I had never been born…”
“If only I would never awake…”
“If only my heart would fail…”
“If only a vein in my head might burst…”
“If only for a quick act of random violence…”

“If only…then I would be free from all that troubles my soul.”
“If only…then I would have rest.”

fall treeI have never had the troubles of Job. I have never endured the trials that he bore. Yet, I heard the same whispers as he under the cover of darkness within the privacy of my own skull. Maybe, Job and I are alone in our confused search for rest but I doubt that.  I have never admitted to these thoughts because I did not want my loved ones to think that I was suicidal and in need of counseling.

I am not suicidal and neither was Job.

The desire of Job’s lament was not for death. I believe that his thoughts meandered to the loss of existence as the release from the burden of his trial. It is a path that my own mind has meandered.  Thoughts of death are a confused route to achieve an intrinsic desire that few ever identify accurately.

Our souls long for rest.

Rest is what every soul desires when the yoke of a fallen world weighs heavily upon us.  Consider what we truly want when we bear the laden burden of troubles:

When we are in pain … we want rest from hurt.
When loves are gone…we want rest from heart break.
When abandoned …we want rest from loneliness.
When confronted with failure … we want rest from expectations.
When penniless…we want rest from need.
When addicted…we want rest from desire.

In times of great trials, our flesh cries out for this intrinsic desire – rest. We all come to the same desire as Job, whether it is due to great trials or insignificant annoyances. We all want rest. We want enduring, everlasting, rest.

This type of rest comes only to those who are in Christ. Death is only a source of rest to those who will enter into the loving arms of their heavenly Father when their time in this fallen world is over.

Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, for I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (Matthew 11:28-29)

All of creation groans for the rest that Christ promises to those who come to him. As Children of God, we can know this rest in part, as we continue to walk in the Spirit along our individual paths of sanctification Christ has pioneered for us. We will not experience this perfect rest until we come to our eternal home.

It is in those dark nights, when my soul is laboring and heavily laden that the Spirit himself bears witness with my spirit. The Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am a child of God and if a child then an heir – an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ. (Romans 8:16-17) The Spirit reminds me that I am His despite my confused thoughts for rest. I don’t want this life to end for a mere escape from trouble; a jump into the abyss.

I just want to go home.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  (Philippians 1:21)

My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.  (Philippians 1:23b)

Like Paul, I just want to be with Christ, which will be far better than anything this world has to offer. My hope is what comes through in those dark nights of indecipherable groaning. It is the inward groaning of a Child of God eagerly awaiting his adoption as son and the redemption of his body. (Romans 8:23)

For in this hope we were saved.  (Romans 8:24)

I believe that it is in those nights when my mind swirls with dark  “If only…” thoughts that the Spirit, who is always with me, steps in and helps me in my weakness.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  (Romans 8:26-27)

It is the Spirit who takes up my improper, inarticulate, longings to pray and intercedes on my behalf. Most of the time, I don’t know what I really need but on some occasions I am sure the Spirit’s intercession has included, “your beloved needs rest.” I imagine that in some cases  my Father’s response to the Spirit was:

Refresh his hope.

Remind him that all things work together for good, for those who are called according to My purpose.

Remind him that no one can separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Open his mind to the reality that if God is for him, who can be against him.

Show him that he is a conqueror through Christ who loves him.

Ask him, who can bring a charge against him, God’s elect.

These thoughts and so many more have come to my mind in response to groaning, “if only…” thoughts. We truly have a great and awesome Helper, who knows what we need and when we need it. He has always been faithful to me and I know that He always will be, even when I get confused and don’t know what I really want – to rest in Christ Jesus.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for sending your Spirit.  Thank you for giving me a hope beyond this world and all its troubles.  Help me to keep my eyes on the Spirit and to walk faithful with you.  Spirit, thank you for interceding for me.  Thank you for giving meaning to my confused groanings.  Thank you for sustaining my soul.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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QUOTE (J.R.R. Tolkien) – Jan 3

January 3, 2015

In honor of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, an English writer, poet, and professor of language, best known as the author of the classic works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, who was born on this day in 1892.

  1. “If men were ever in a state in which they did not want to know or could not perceive truth (facts or evidence), then Fantasy would languish until they were cured.”
  2. “We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.”
  3. “The Resurrection was the greatest ‘eucatastrophe’ possible in the greatest Fairy Story — and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love.”
  4. “End? No, it doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one which we must all take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all change to silver glass… And then you see it… White shores, and beyond, a far green country, under a swift sunrise.”

~J.R.R. Tolkien

Resources:
Literary Birthday – January 3- J.R.R. Tolkien
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien Quotes> Goodreads
Top 12 J.R.R. Tolkien Quotes
J.R.R. Tolkien

 

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“COME DEATH…BUT NOT YET” – July 24

July 24, 2013

“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith.”  Philippians 1:25

I can relate to Paul’s longing for death.  For Paul, he knew that it was far better to depart and be with Christ.  I believe in the sweet release of death and look forward to being with Christ.  However, there is a difference between longing for what is far better behind the veil of death and simply wanting to escape the stress and unpleasantness of life.

Dark Night

Dark Night (Photo credit: Mat Sheridan)

Typically, I only think about death when the view on this side is bleak.  “O Lord, if you are going to take me, then now would be a good time,” has been a prayer that has crossed my lips on the eve of an important test that I was ill prepared for.  The oppression of discouragement and meaninglessness leads the eye to look to for what is far better beyond the horizon of life.  Feelings of being ill-suited for this world and without a role tend to increase the desire to go where you know you will belong.

On those dark nights, escape has been my primary motivation behind the desire to leave this world.

The duplicity of my motivation was revealed when the doctor explained the cancer that was confronting my mortality.  Suddenly, the attractive escape of death was not as appealing.  There was within me an earnest desire to remain here a little longer to help raise my kids and grow old with my wife.  “O Lord, if it is your will  then your will be done but please give me a few more years.  Allow me to be a father and husband a little longer,” was my prayer when the reality of death knocked.

The Lord graciously granted that prayer and I have been cancer free for more than ten years.  However, the earnestness of being purposeful wanes as the years have removed the palpable taste of death’s reality.  The taste may diminish but the reality remains.  We all are a missed heartbeat away from crossing the veil into the arms of our Savior.  The time that we have been give is precious and should not be wasted.

For those who are in Christ, it is far better for the Lord to take us home.  So, why doesn’t he?  We are here for a purpose:

For to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.  (Philippians 1:24)

sunrise silhouette

sunrise silhouette (Photo credit: LJ Mears)

Like Paul, we remain in this world not for our own account but for others.  We all have a necessary purpose that we can fulfill in the time that God has given us on this earth.  We are here to help others progress in their faith.  Our purpose is to increase the joy in their faith.  It should be said of every departing brother and sister that they brought joy, encouragement, and progress to the faith of those in their life.

We are never too old or young to bring joy and encourage progress in someone else’s faith.
We are never too immature or mature to be about the purpose of others.

My hope and prayer on the day that death is allowed to take me is that my life will have brought joy to the faith of those I love.  I want those in whom I have invested my life to say that they have progressed in their faith because of the time that we were together.

That will be a life well spent.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for every day that you have given me.  Forgive me for not making the most of them.  Forgive me for allowing my limited days to be consumed with thoughts of my self.  Father, I want to live purposefully.  I want those whom you have placed in my life to be joyful as a result of my love for you.  I want those whom you have called to go further in their sanctification as a result of seeing my desire to seek you.  Lord, may you grant this purpose to my life.  Keep it in the forefront of my intentions.  Help me to be purposeful with the fleeting hours that I have been given.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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