Tuesday, January 5, 2010

if when i die...

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
In my Father's house are many rooms;
if it were not so, I would have told you.
I am going there to prepare a place for you."
John 14:2

i have some news: i am going to die. oh, don't be so alarmed: so are you. it is, perhaps, the only certainty in life and yet, it's so taboo to speak of our own deaths that we refer to it as if instead of when. why is that?

i suppose we all have our own versions of our preferred, idealized deaths, most of which entail us being very, very old and gray and peacefully passing in a state of contented sleep with loved ones gathered around remarking what wonderfully full lives we lived and how it was simply "our time". i have no idea where we (or i) have conjured up this romanticized image from but, for as long as i can remember, it is the only manner in which death has seemed acceptable to me. everything else has seemed tragic and sad, not to mention monumentally untimely and unfair. . .

until now.

i love that the men Jesus chose to be His disciples were imperfect individuals just like us me. When faced with the news of Jesus' imminent death, they were wrought with grief and anxiety and lack of understanding in much the same way we are when we are facing the death of someone we love. in the verse above, Jesus is comforting them by urging them to TRUST Him. He can see the unbelief on their faces and I can almost hear Him saying to them, speaking very slowly and intentionally: "listen to me. believe me. believe what I am saying to you. If it weren't true, I wouldn't have told you... "

we live our lives in fear of death, dreading it both for ourselves and for those we love. we conjure up ways in which we can somehow prevent or escape it when - if we really believe what we claim to believe - i'm not sure why. there are a couple of inescapable tenants of this whole Christianity thing and one is that you have to believe Jesus. [note that i didn't say believe in Jesus. no, that's too easy.] Jesus wasn't urging his disciples to simply believe IN Him, He was urging them to believe the words that were coming out of His mouth... words like:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy;

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
i believe that both my life and my [physical] death are in the palm of His sovereign hand. when I die, regardless of the time and manner, i'd want others to believe that as well. don't get me wrong, i don't believe that He causes some of the things that we perceive as tragedy. but i do believe that He uses everything - including the free will of lost people, human error, and evil - according to His redemptive purpose. for years, i beleived IN Him; but now, i believe Him. because of that, i believe the words of Paul when he wrote, "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord" and "I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far". me too, Paul. oh, me too.

and while i'm thinking, writing, blogging about it i have a couple of candid observations/last wishes that i've already noted to my closest friends or family. you know, just in case. [my mother would be mortified that i'm actually "posting this on the internet", but better to have it here than scrawled on a piece of paper someplace, right?]...

1) close my casket. period. i do not want anyone "viewing" my dead body. we all know how this goes: people either walk away commenting on how "good" you look or how it "didn't look a thing like you". just put a big poster board of my smiling face up front if people need something to look at. you know something like this:
maybe someone can draw in one of those cartoon clouds where i'm thinking, "Yay! I'm in heaven!" or "Don't cry, I'll see you soon!". you know, something like that...

2) wooden casket. i know, i know. its not like i'd know the difference, but please don't parade my body around in one of those gaudy shiny metal boxes, even if they do come in pink.

3) please don't waste money on flowers. do an "in lieu of" to Compassion Intl or Lovelady Center. and for those flowers that inevitably come anyway, well, i've already assigned someone to hand pick every carnation out of every arrangement... just sayin.

4) if i die in an automobile accident, please do not decorate/erect a marker at the accident site. if you need decorate something, decorate my grave site - although, i'm not there either... and it had better not be one of those glow in the dark crosses.

that said, these are requests that - in the grand scheme of eternity - won't matter one iota. the vast majority of the time, requests as these are never honored because those left grieving have to do whatever it takes to comfort themselves. i experienced this firsthand when my step dad passed away. if it had been up to him, he would've likely wanted to be buried somewhere on his own property in a pine box. but in our grief, we doted on the spray of red roses, hand selecting the pine cones and branches that intertwined to give it a "rustic, wintry look"; we took time to decide on the tone of the wood, opting for the darker espresso rather than the lighter shade. we did those things knowing full well he would've detested all of it, even giggling at some points about how he would've fussed at us for "wasting money on his dead body". oh, he would've let my mother buy it all anyway, but the point is - funerals are not for those who have passed away, but for those who are left behind. and because of that, my only real request is this:

WORSHIP.

even, if not especially, in the midst of suffering and loss, we have a God who desires to bring glory unto Himself and who - in all things - is deserving of our worship and our praise. the bible says there is a time for all things: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to mourn and a time to dance. you can mourn later, but if when i die, WORSHIP.... and believe.

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.

Psalm 150

2 comments:

  1. Nadia,
    You are SO GIFTED with words!!!! I don't know what it is about you and Amy and your writing abilities...WOW! You can have me laughing and crying within a paragraph. Keep writing.

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  2. Sue, you are so sweet. Thank you for your kind words and for being a faithful reader of my words. I have always thought Amy was an extremely gifted writer and that is a huge compliment to be categorized with her by her own mama. Love you!! :)

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