“But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.” (Acts 2:24) NLT
I was sixteen years old when I realized I suffered from necrophobia, the fear of death and things associated with it. I could not fathom the inevitable concept of death. This condition was often amplified at funerals.
Funerals freaked me out. Cemeteries creeped me out. The thought of touching a dead body, gripping the bars of a coffin or lowering remains into a six-foot hole – always came with a feeling of doom and trepidation.
I asked God to help me overcome my phobia. When we ask God to adjust our character traits, I’ve noticed He will thrust you in an uncomfortable environment that will extract the trait which you seek. You want more patience? God will place you in situations where you have to wait beyond your normal patience level. Want peace? God will allow you to stroll into total chaos. Want love? God will send you into a circumstance where you may need to love someone who’s not being very lovable.
In order to overcome my fear of death and funerals, God provided me with several opportunities to attend them. I want to be there for people and reaffirm God’s peace and comfort during their sorrow — even if it’s just through my presence.
While death is certain for everyone, its exact arrival time is highly uncertain. In recent years, I’ve seen elderly patriarchs and matriarchs leave admirable legacies. I’ve watched a man in his early 50s leave young adult children whom he won’t see graduate from college. I’ve endured the pain of watching a mother and daughter plucked from the earth like roses and laid to rest together. I’ve empathized with the grieving parents of a days old infant. I’ve even had the difficult task of eulogizing my own cousin who grew up with me, but will never have a chance to grow old.
As I’ve come to terms with death and my own mortality, I joke that I have “Black Benjamin Button Syndrome”- where I’m aging backwards. That condition only applies to my aesthetics; while the truth is I am getting older.
My peers are lamenting through what they perceive is a mid-life crisis. It’s a concept I cannot understand because it implies that we know the beginning and end of our life story by identifying our current state as the “middle.” There may be some subtle and /or blatant changes happening in our health, finances and life circumstances. Stiffness. Soreness. Aches. Pains. Bills. Dreams deferred. Visions blurred. And the lie on the street is that you’ve let life pass you by. It’s almost time for you die and you’ve done nothing you planned. That high school graduation speech gave you so much promise and hope; but it’s 20 years later and now your kids have that promise and you’ve been deceived into thinking your abundant life has alluding you.
He gave you “now.” That’s it. There are no days stored up for you and the ones you spent are over. He gives everyone right now. From the most successful to the most downtrodden – each of us gets right now. Not years, months, hours or even minutes. The exact quantity of life is not promised to you, but that doesn’t mean you go left and stress over the exact moment your life ends. You know neither.
So what do you know?
We know that God created us for a good work that He will carry on until the day of Jesus Christ. That’s our focus. That’s our purpose. We also know that Jesus died but death couldn’t hold him. As believers who are Christ-like, we have the same destiny to be released from the horrors of death – which is eternal punishment – and find peace in that we will die and that will NOT be the end of the story. In fact, it will be the beginning of infinity in the most glorious place in the universe.
Meanwhile, be confident and know you that where you are in life is exactly where you’re supposed to be. Even if it’s not in the best environment, all things (including the ratchet) are on God’s payroll.
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 1:6) NIV