Since arriving in Portland, the subject of death has come up in several different ways and been closer to home than usual.
Yesterday (February 13, 2012) we received some news that we had been dreading. Our 9 year old niece Mercede (Grace’s side of the family) had passed away after an intense battle with leukemia. On June 9, 2011, Mercede Joy was diagnosed with Acute Monoblastic Leukemia(m5). She fought the aggressive cancer with courage and (for the most part) a smile on her face. She was supposed to go through five rounds of chemo and then be able to go home and get on with life. However, two days after Christmas, at the end of her fifth round of chemo, the news came that the leukemia was back and her bone marrow was 70% cancer cells. We had planned on seeing Mercede and the family in a few months as we passed through North Carolina but now we will have to wait to see her. :'( The little time Grace and I were able to spend with her in the past was so special to us.
Another point of reference pertaining to death has to do with a man we have met at our RV Park here in Portland. His name is John and he lives near us and is awaiting a new heart. He is on the list for a heart transplant at the hospital here in Portland and has to live within a certain distance of the hospital at all times. As a result he no longer is at his country home hours south of the city, is away from his wife and has a travel trailer similar to ours at our little RV Park. He’s been here for 6 months and he does not know how long till the transplant will be. Each morning I see and talk to John at the nearby coffee shop and last night our family was able to take him out for dinner. He has almost died several times over the years and it is on his mind at times.
Death is not the funnest conversation to have or the best topic of a blog post. But death is a reality that can humble the most driven man in all his pursuits and can create an incredible platform for the good news of the coming Messianic Kingdom. Until Jesus returns, death will be a consistent reality set in place to remind us of some things.
Though it seems a bit strange, the subject of death has been a sobering encouragement to me. It serves as a reminder of the second death that will come to some (Gehenna/lake of fire) and is a motivator to live this vapor of a life in full submission to God’s leadership by the Spirit unto entrance into the Messiah’s Kingdom (eternal life/salvation/being born again).
It is in the heart of many to control all aspects of life, but humanity throughout history has faced death and lost every time…except for One…Jesus! Death cannot be controlled but can be overcome. But in order to overcome, we must lose all control of this life and trust Him with it.
Each weekday morning while living here in Portland, I have consistently visited the Starbucks across the street where I have had the opportunity to talk with some and see many others. This particular Starbucks serves many wealthy business men and women. There is an air of confidence and control that comes from most who enter to get their coffee. Many talk of their “inner strength” which helps them to succeed in this life and overcome. But for all of them there is a day approaching where their heart will stop beating, their lungs will stop breathing and they will face the One who did overcome. Will they have lived with that day in mind? Will their self-will, self-distraction, self-trust have made a legacy in this life but prepared the way for second death in the next age? Which is better?
The first death is pretty certain for all who now live. It is one of the few things that people cannot fully control. And there is only one Man who has overcame death through resurrection (Jesus the Messiah). The prophets and mouthpieces for all other religions have faced death and lost. The question is, will we face the second death and lose? Life is busy and sometimes causes a fog to settle over the priority list but wouldn’t it make sense to look to the One who has overcome the one thing that all humanity has never been able to control. It’s interesting how so many can try to avoid death, yet never look to the One who overcame it.
Death can help to encourage us on the Narrow Path as we journey toward the New Jerusalem (age to come), serving as a tool for humility and countering pride…if we stop to ponder it.