Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Date with Death

I have been to two funerals in the last two weeks which makes three for the year. That is a little unusual for me. It seems I average about one funeral a year. I'm not sure if I am surrounded by young, healthy people or if I have so few friends that their funeral are few and far between! When I opened the Bible yesterday I was in the book of Isaiah and began my reading in the 38th chapter and it went like this:

Isaiah 38: 1-6 - 1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, "This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover."
 2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3 "Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
 4 Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: 5 "Go and tell Hezekiah, 'This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city.

As I read this passage I wondered if I would want what Hezekiah got. Would I want to know exactly when I was going to die! If you think about it that is a double edged sword. It would be great to know that you have another 15 years. If this happened to me today I would take it to mean that I would not be killed in a car accident tomorrow, I would not get terminal cancer next week and have a doctor tell me I only have six months to live, and I might even go sky diving or bungee jumping knowing that I would not get killed in the process. However, (don't you just love that word) what would you do on day 5474. There are 5475 days in fifteen years. (I know there would be a leap year or two in there but lets keep this simple) How well do you think you would sleep that night knowing that tomorrow would be your last day on earth? How many thoughts would run through your mind about why you didn't do this or do that. What if, whenever we prayed that someone who was dying would be healed, God said ok but if I do, I will tell you exactly when you are going to die and that will be it, not changes, no going back, no do overs. Would you take that deal? If so and he said you get three more years would you be upset that you did not get 15? It seems that as I listen to prayers and even when I pray myself we are focused on the quantity of life and rarely the quality of life. We pray and ask that Granny be healed of her cancer. Why? So she can sit around and watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy for another 5 years! When a kid gets in trouble with the law we pray that he would be released or found not guilty. Why? So he can go back to playing X-Box and texting all of his buds on his phone all day? When is the last time you heard someone pray "God heal my granny so she can continue to live out her faith before others and show them what true Christian service really is." or "God, if it takes 3 years in jail for my son to come to his senses and turn his life over to you then let him be found guilty."  It seems as though we live in a time where no one wants anyone to suffer, no one wants anyone to experience hardships and trials. Don't get me wrong, I would prefer to live a life of relative ease with the occasional flat tire or burned steak being about the extent of my suffering. However the more I read about the life of the Apostles the more I realize that suffering should be a way of life for us. Not suffering for doing stupid stuff but suffering because we are living out our faith, we are sharing our faith with a lost world. As I read the verse in Isaiah 38 I could not help but contrast Hezekiah's prayer and attitude with Paul's:

Acts 20: 22-24 -  22"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.

Paul was not concerned with the quantity of life, he was not concerned with how many days or years he was going to have. He was concerned with the quality of what God was going to give him. He was determined to live every day as if it were his last.

So where do you stand as it relates to life. What do you value more, quantity or quality? If you (and I) pay attention to how you pray and how you live your life I think the answer will be clear. So whether you are on day one, day 5474 or somewhere in between there is time to change. There are numerous stories in the Bible of men and women allowing God to radically change their lives. He can do the same for you and me.

1 comment:

  1. I have often wondered the very same thing. I've had to come to grips with it because I am only one person and I can't help all these people who come to me (in the way of no suffering). I have finally decided that God put them in this place for a purpose and I must allow Him to do His work in and through them. All I can do is pray with them that God's will be done in their life. It's also the same idea when it comes to those who have more than others. Why? Did God not want to provide for them better than some one else?'s because we all learn differently and God knows what we need and how much or how little to grow us closer to Him. I no longer feel guilty for being richer than others. I no longer look at a "richer" friend in a way as to covet what he has. I'm content in what I have and where I am because God put me here at this time and at this very hour. It's all a part of His plan and I can enjoy it because I know He's in all of it. I only pray that I use every moment of every day to grow closer to Him and to glorify His name in all that I do whether I have one day left or 4,575!! Thanks for sharing, dear sister. ~Nancy R.