Tag Archives: death

Life and Death

Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.
1Thessalonians 5:10, NLT*

I was raised in the Christian faith. For all the things I was slow to learn, or am still learning, this one thing I believed from childhood: Jesus’ death on the Cross meant I could go to Heaven when I died.

No wondering if I’d be “good enough to make it.” Somehow I grasped early on that it wasn’t about earning a place, but about accepting the invitation.

Because I was sure of my ultimate destination, when circumstances felt painful or overwhelming, I saw Heaven as the ultimate escape. I’m glad God also gave me a strong sense that life was His alone to give and take.

The Apostle Paul said, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” (Philippians 1:21, NLT*) He wasn’t indulging in a self-absorbed death-wish. He was giving his all to the Lord each day, knowing there was a reward at the end of the race.

The assurance of eternity with Jesus means that whatever we’re living now, there’s something better coming. Pain will be wiped away. So, too, will our present treasures, so let’s not hoard them.

Jesus is the only way to Heaven. We can’t force others to choose Him, but we can pray persistently and we can surrender our lives fully to Him so that they’ll see the difference He makes. We can obey Him when He tells us how to love them.

How do we practice now for eternity? Consciously spending time with God today – each day – will make all the difference. Quiet moments in prayer, reading the Bible (His love letter to us), learning to rest in His presence while we work or play… it’s not easy to retrain our spirits to check in with Him regularly, but it’s a worthwhile goal. And it’s the sort of prayer He’d love to answer.

God our Father, Jesus our Saviour, Holy Spirit our Sustainer, how can we thank You for saving us from eternal separation from Your love? Give us a healthy longing for Heaven, and give us a stronger longing for Your presence with us each moment of our days on earth. Work in us so that others will catch glimpses of You. Work through us to show mercy and compassion and to break chains and barriers.

There are some beautiful songs anticipating Heaven, but instead of choosing something from my “requiem” playlist, I leave us with this challenge from Matt Maher‘s album, Saints and Sinners: “Firelight.” The opening may not seem to match this post, but I hope you’ll listen through the instrumental break and to the end. May we put our remaining days here to good use.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Where is God in Haiti?

It doesn’t take a tragedy on the magnitude of the one in Haiti to get people asking “Where was God?” and “Why did He let this happen?”

I’m sure God doesn’t mind honest questions. He knows us, knows our finite understanding and the troubles that are too deep to articulate. I’m equally sure He does not appreciate it when we set ourselves up as His judges, especially since we don’t have all the information.

Whatever our circumstances, it’s worth asking “Where are You, God? What do You want me to learn?” Another good question is “What do You want to do through me?”

Where is God in Haiti? He’s giving strength to the relief workers, whether they recognize it or not. He’s giving courage to the suffering, if they’ll receive it. He’s shining brightest through the people who are in relationship with Him, who can listen to and rely on His Spirit.

Someone called Jesus “God with skin on” and that’s what Christians are to be: the visible means through which God works to touch the world and to show who He really is. Being human, we fail more often than we succeed, but as long as we’re obedient to Him and relying on Him, people can see the difference.

God is in the details, the personal experiences. He had people in place to help physically, and others already praying even though they didn’t know why.

I spoke with a woman who’d been invited to visit Haiti this January. She and her husband sensed it wasn’t the time. They were in Canada, safe, during the earthquake, and God used her as a voice here for the mission there. An email from one of the mission leaders said a voice told him not to leave the shaking building but to shelter under a desk. The rubble at the exit proves he would have died.

On another mission team, one member felt the need to cut short his time and return home. From Canada, he too was able to pray and to be of service. The rest of his team survived the quake and provided support until they had to leave.

God was in the finding of the 15-day old baby, alive after a week in the rubble. In the elderly woman found under the ruined cathedral, who sang so that rescuers could find her. And in the deaths of so many, including the Canadian nurse who’d just arrived to volunteer. I don’t understand, but I trust His character enough to know He can take all this brokenness and make something beautiful.

If we let Him. He won’t push past our defences any more than He would suspend the natural forces that caused the devastation.

We’re all inundated with opportunities to give to Haiti relief. If for some reason you’ve held off but now think it’s time, here are some links that might interest you:

Hands Across The Sea (HATS) orphanage and school in Deschappelles, Haiti.

Cup of Cold Water Click on the “earthquake relief” tab for updates from Haiti: news of the ministry compound (including orphanage) in Vignier, Haiti, and of relief efforts.

Canadian Baptist Ministries Click “emergency relief” and then “Haiti earthquake”.

World Vision

Praying in the Dark

Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let him who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the LORD
and rely on his God.
Isaiah 50:10, NIV*

The past few weeks have weighed a bit heavily on me. Prayers, alone and in groups, dwell on a mountain of needs: sickness, death, emotional suffering.

In one of my prayer groups, a member spoke of having a hard time “seeing God’s plan” in a heartbreaking need. Not that God caused the problem, but why isn’t He intervening with the miracle we’re praying to see?

I thought of this on Good Friday. Nobody could see God’s plan when it included Jesus dying on the Cross.

But He had a plan.

And it shook the universe.

If we know God’s character, we know we can trust Him. Even when He’s silent and everything is going all wrong.

So I choose to keep bringing the sick and wounded to Him, bringing my lack of vision too.

Father, prayer isn’t meant to dwell on the problems, but to dwell on You. Forgive us when we get it wrong. Thank You that we can bring these needs to You. Help us find our rest in who You are, in Your character and Your promises. When we can’t see Your plan, let us see You – caring, moving, sustaining.

To focus us on God, this week’s song is Chris Tomlin‘s “You Do All Things Well“.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.