Living on the cusp of my 49th year of life, which may still seem young to some “moldy oldies” (said with deepest respect, of course), I sense with ever-increasing speed…the truth of my own mortality. My number of days dwindles. In addition to my own looming mortality, I’ve lived long enough to witness a litany of friends and family from my own childhood and church whose faces are no longer seen and laughter no longer heard. Death…such a dark reality! In one sense, of course, the realization of our own death is a good thing. Moses prayed to God to “teach us to number our days that we might get a heart of wisdom,”—this, after a rather sobering reflection on the brevity of life in a sinful world (Psalm 90).

But learning to “number our days” can, if we’re not careful, lead us into a nostalgic sentiment that forms an inner darkness. It’s a type of depression that lurks in our hearts stealing our Christian joy, hope and peace. I know, because I’ve been there.

But through a recent conversation with my friend Wade Wroten, the Lord refreshed a gospel truth in my soul that I desperately needed. It was like the truth came to life in a new way. He (and he’s witnessed many deaths as a hospital chaplain) told me about what he called the “gift of death” for the Christian. Then he went on to say that for us, we have already died in Christ (“I have been crucified with Christ,” (Galatians 2:20). The “light bulb” moment was the realization that Christians are not supposed to live in the loom of death. We are not supposed to feel the dark angst of our own mortality—especially this side of the cross! We are to live in the virulent truth that death no longer has any hold on us! Our death has already taken place in Christ and the life we now live is Christ’s resurrection life within. And no one, not even our last breath, can take that away from us. When our bodies cease to breathe, we do not die…we experience a whole new breath of life in the presence of Christ. That means our physical death is a gift.

If my life is anything like yours, then perhaps you too have been living in the loom of death—lamenting the passing of time and grieving the memories of yesteryear. 1 Peter spoke of a joy that comes from being born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:1:3, 6). It’s not a dead hope or even a sleepy hope. It’s a hope that is alive because God has brought us to life. And our best life is not behind us or presently with us. Our best life is when this living hope finds its final reward. My simple encouragement to you as a fellow pilgrim is to live in the light of resurrection and not in the loom of death. The former gives strength. The latter suffocates. Our victory has already been won. Live in the hope of its light.

(Originally published August 30, 2016)

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