On Living and Dying

I have decided
I called out his name
I’m following Jesus now and
He knows the way
I made up my mind
I’ll leave it behind
-Brandon Heath

The sermon last Sunday was on commitment. “How committed are you to Christ?” was the question posed. My husband and I led worship. We sang about not turning back, following Jesus all the way. We prayed, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done”, even as we strained to apply these difficult words to our lives.

I thought of Jesus in the garden, “If it is possible, take this cup, Father”. It isn’t wrong to ask the Lord for relief from suffering. I don’t have to pretend everything is ok, when it isn’t. Like Jesus, we wrestle in anguish with our own will. And each must come to the place of surrender; a voluntary laying ourselves down before Him, “Not my will, but yours, Father”. Our pastor shared about the cost of following Jesus – the required cross we must take up daily. I found comfort in the realization that even Jesus stumbled under the weight of it all. He staggered and fell on His way to Calvary. But He got back up and continued on. And so do we. This is the lifecycle of a committed Christian.

I just read yesterday that Kara Tippetts went home to be with the Lord on Sunday. How fitting for Him to call her home on His day. She must have entered with singing – the worship of the whole world gathered for Sunday services. My own voice was among the throng ushering her into glory. I wrote about Kara last fall . The link will take you to that post and more of her story. Since then, I have been following Kara’s blog: Mundane Faithfulness. In the past few weeks, I’ve had a stroke of anxiety at each new post in my inbox; fearing this would be the one to say she was gone. I knew the day was close at hand. But knowing didn’t keep me from experiencing deep sadness in her loss, especially for her “loves” as she calls them. Kara is survived by her husband and four children. She was only 38 years old, but she lived and died beautifully.

I was thinking of the fragility of life this morning, which led me to this passage, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you” (2 Corinthians 4:7-12).

The way she carried the cross of her cancer revealed the life of Jesus. In Kara’s brokenness, we see the light of His glory and grace. This is all any of us can hope to accomplish this side of heaven. And to hold firm to Jesus, as Kara did, believing, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:17).

Although, those troubles seem anything but “light and momentary” as we strain under them. But in this hope of glory, we press on “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Cor. 6:10). Today, I am grateful for the ways Kara’s life enriched my own. Her example has made me rich. Thanks to her, I possess a little more of God’s coming Kingdom. She valiantly fought the good fight of faith ; showing what it is to be living, yet dying, full of the light and life of Christ. Kara was committed to Christ. I rest in the thought that she entered heaven to the tune,  “No turning back”.

CHORUS:
No turning back
No turning back
I’m moving on
Not looking back
I’m giving him
All that I have
No turning back
No turning back

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to support her children. Information is available at this link .

 

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