Monday, September 5, 2016
I Can't Wait Until I Die
I Can’t Wait Until I Die
“Listen, folks, you can take all of your drama and
idiotically irrelevant obsessions and…
give them to Jesus…or
die as miserably as
you’re not living.”
“For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. Yet if I live, that
means fruitful service for Christ…I’m torn between two desires:
Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes
I long to go and be with Christ.
That would be far better
for me, but it is better
for you that I live.
I am convinced of this, so I will continue with you so that
you will grow and experience the joy of your faith.”
Spending so much time in nursing homes and hospitals can be very saddening; especially when listening and praying with people who shoulda, coulda, and woulda if…
Some folks reach the end of their lives and can’t look in the mirror because it’s too painful.
They squandered opportunities for all of the wrong reasons and missed out on the “goodness” offered by God to everyone by creative design.
They die as miserably as they never lived.
I remember a very famous buddy of President Bill Clinton – I’d drop his name but then you’d think I’m an idolater like… - who said to me, “People often pray, ‘If I should die before I wake…’ I think they should be praying, ‘If I should wake before I die!’”
Truly, I can’t wait until I die; and I’ll tell you why after confessing one of the most apocalyptic moments in my life.
Here it is.
I’m gonna die.
After presiding at over a thousand memorial services so far, I’ve come to accept my own mortality.
I’m gonna die; and so are…
Or as I often say at those memorial services to salt folks to attention and attraction to Jesus, “Someday, everybody is going to return from the cemetery but you or me.”
Of course, I lost my fear of death in 8th grade.
That’s when I first knew Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.
That’s when I first read about His offer of forever and ever and ever paradise to anyone who accepts His grace through faith.
Really, that’s what it’s all about.
Really, really, really, that’s what it better be all about or life becomes something to clutch frantically and experience aimlessly or recklessly and ultimately hopelessly.
If heaven is not real, then we’re like those sad to embittered folks in nursing homes and hospitals who never embraced His abundant life and clutch frantically to a few more breaths to postpone the inevitable worm food of atheism.
If heaven is not real, then it’s all been a big joke…by chance…or sadistic design.
If heaven is not real, life becomes anticipation of…nothing.
Christians don’t feel aimless or reckless and ultimately hopeless because of Jesus’ promises of heaven after earth by grace through faith.
Read the red letters in your Bible.
He said lots about that.
Because of Jesus, anyone who believes/accepts/affirms/applauds and, in short, trusts His word knows heaven comes the first nano-second after the last breath.
While I haven’t been there yet, I’ve read about it…and had one or two sniffs and tastes of it that prompt me to say I can’t wait until I die; which is a good thing because I’m gonna die.
You can make your own list from the Bible and those who’ve been far more intimate with Him than me; but here are some things that quickly come to my mind when I think of what’s inevitable for anyone who loves Jesus.
Heaven is personal.
The apostle says, “Now we see in a mirror dimly. Now we don’t know everything; but then, we shall know fully as we have been fully known by God. We will see face to face.”
The revelator quotes Jesus to say heaven is paradise.
He says, it’s the pure and perfect place of personal peace where there is no more crying or pain or tears…or anything bad anymore.
He also says it’s 24/7/365 worship at His best.
While that can be a problem for people who like worship to be less than 59 minutes and 59 seconds on Sundays alone, the revelator is really saying that heaven is like those moments in worship when you feel really, really, really close to God and, therefore, feel really, really, really safe…secure…loved…saved.
Well, I can’t really get my head around that.
But heaven sounds a lot better than what’s going on around…
Charlie Cummings was one of my mentors in the early years of my ordained undershepherding ministry.
He told me about the night that he stopped in the middle of scaling the steps to his bedroom and shouted out to God, “Take me now! I’m tired of all of the pain and suffering and struggles and…”
You know what he meant.
He said that to me when I told him about my first church board meeting shortly after being ordained.
I told the session about all of the great things we could do together for Jesus; and one of the elders scoffed, “Listen, preacher, if you think we’re going to do any of that, you’re crazy.”
I’ve been a fool for Jesus since I got it/Him in 8th grade.
Lots of mistakes/sins along the way; but I have never fudged on Jesus as Lord and Savior.
That’s why I knew what Charlie meant when he continued, “Oh, God! Take me now! My life is better to you than anybody that I’m trying to help in the church, community, and even in my family. Take me now! I want to go to heaven and be with You.”
He wanted to go to heaven because heaven is like…the best!
He served for many years after that.
Yet, because he knew heaven was around the corner of him like everybody else including you and me, he hung in because that’s what God called him to do.
Paul, in effect, put it this way, “I love my life because I’m living in, through, and for Jesus. I’m not missing out on the ‘goodness’ and opportunities that He has for me in time; but I know heaven will be even better. I know He will call me to heaven sooner or later. Truth is heaven sounds even better than the best that He gives to me now. So, yeah, I’d rather go to heaven right now and get away from everybody trying to bring me down to their level of miserable non-existence. That’s not the plan right now. For reasons known only to Him, I’m still supposed to tell you about Him so that you’ll shed all of the superficially stupid silliness in your life, take His hand, and live confidently in the assurance of living forever.”
I can’t wait until I die!
That’s because I really, really, really know what’s coming by grace through faith in Jesus.
I can’t wait until die; which is a good thing because I’m gonna die!
In the meantime, I’m like every other Christian.
Living with positive anticipation!
Blessings and Love!