It has been 5 months since my Husband, Clovis, went to be with Jesus. During the years I took care of him and especially at the end of his days, I learned that there is more than one way to lay down your life for someone else. You can lay down you life and still be breathing. I believe that is more difficult than taking your last breath for someone else to continue breathing. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord according to the Apostle Paul. Laying down your life is not only an act of the physical body. It may mean laying aside your own needs, hopes, dreams and aspirations to give someone else the best quality of life possible as they struggle to face the transition that is to come. I would do it all over again for him.
1st Peter 4:12 tells us, “Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.”* I believe when someone has accepted the salvation provided for them on the Cross by Jesus and perhaps gone through a time of inner and outer healing, the challenge is to consider what’s next. When the road became really tough for Christ’s followers, some of them dropped off by the wayside. His faithful ones struggled and as we know, even denied they knew him for a season. It all depends upon what you want from the life you now have. 1st Peter 4:13 says, *“Instead, be very glad--for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” Those of you who know me well, know that I hate to miss out on anything exciting that is happening around me. That challenging expectation is hard to meet since I am unable to clone myself. The fantastic truth is that when God’s glory is revealed to the world, no one is going to miss it. We will either receive it with joy or we will shrink back in fear and shame. God wants the former for us, not the latter. As I have written to you before, my goal is Philippians 3:10: “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, (why?) so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” ETERNAL LIFE!!!! No one can take that away from you no matter what avenue takes you from this present life! Knowing that, I accept with joy the trials that become part of my “missionary” journey. I am an Ambassador of Christ. Missionaries and Ambassadors are quite similar. They both deliver a message to their listeners. Ambassadors and Missionaries are called to dangerous places at times. My Friend and Brother in the Lord, Ron Flug, wrote a song I had the blessing to hear him sing: “Dangerous Places”. The following is the chorus:
“You take this heart into dangerous places.
You take this heart where I wouldn’t go.
You take this heart into dangerous places
And you break it open and you let love flow.
Yea, you break it open and you let love flow.”
Mark 8:34 & 35 “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” I guess it is all up to choice. The last choice our Creator incarnate made was to “carry his cross”. That is the final act of someone slated to die in that manner. They had to carry their own cross. I have chosen Galatians 2:20 “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” In actuality, when we choose “life” we are choosing “death”. Death to self; life to Him! Jesus never told us it would be easy but he did promise that through his grace and strength and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be "more than Conquerors!" As Paul said in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Even to be able to say, “It is a good day to die!”
Lord Jesus, may we all receive the strength that only you can give to enable us to say unreservedly, “I surrender all… everything I am, everything I am not, everything I have… I’m Yours Lord!”
(all scriptures are from the New Living Translation of the Bible)