Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A matter of perspective

I was reading a novel yesterday and in one scene the central character was on an airplane, awaiting take-off.  The wait was a bit longer than usual and he was feeling some anxiety about being on a plane, something which could potentially crash.  He knew, as most people do, that planes do crash but also that those events are exceedingly rare.  And as he thought about the plane, and perhaps a brush with his own mortality, he asked himself this question:

Could there be a person alive whose life was so full (loved ones so well-loved, affairs so well-ordered) that thoughts of an imminent demise would seem in any way acceptable?”

That struck me as an interesting question, one that in the sense it was asked, and if it was asked to me, my answer would likely be ‘no,’ but when considered a bit differently my answer would be an unqualified ‘yes.’

Today marks four years since our youngest daughter came into our family.  No matter how well-organized, or whatever, my life is at any one point, I think it will be another full 20 years before I will feel that I will have done my part to ensure that her feet are planted firmly enough for navigating life in this world.  In the sense of tending to the life responsibilities I currently have my “imminent demise,” as the author called it, would be unacceptable.

But when considered from a different perspective, from where I stand as a believer in Jesus, the notion of my “imminent demise” has a different look.  And that is because no part of my life, death included, is outside of the knowledge and authority of God.  From that place, my death, whenever it happens, is not just acceptable, but dare I say appropriate.

The Bible speaks to us time and again of God’s intimate knowledge of everything in the world.  One of the most well-known examples is during the Sermon on the Mount, when in Matthew 6:26 Jesus says,

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

In the first question-and-answer of the Heidelberg Catechism we are reminded of how firmly all who have faith in God, through Christ, are held by Him.  It says:

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own,1 but belong—body and soul, in life and in death2—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.3
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,4 and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.5 He also watches over me in such a way6 that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven;7 in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.8
Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life9 and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.10

1 1 Cor. 6:19-20 
2 Rom. 14:7-9 
3 1 Cor. 3:23; Titus 2:14 
4 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:2 
5 John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:1-11 
6 John 6:39-40; 10:27-30; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:5 
7 Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18 
8 Rom. 8:28 
9 Rom. 8:15-16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14 
10 Rom. 8:1-17

I left the scripture references in so you can look through the Bible to read the sources that were used for this powerful affirmation of security in Christ.

My death won’t happen outside of where I am with Christ.  It can’t.  It may not happen at the time I think is best but it will be at the time that He has always known as best.  My prayer is that in both life and in death I can point others to the glory of Christ Jesus.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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