Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

Grave Clothes   3 comments


Image provided by thecherriodays.blogspot.com

Image provided by thecherriodays.blogspot.com

One of the passages in the Bible that I find great meaning in is found in the story of Lazarus’ death.  Lazarus was a friend of Jesus.  Jesus had become close to him and his two sisters.  When Jesus received word that Lazarus was very sick, he waited a few days before going to Bethany where Lazarus and his sisters lived.  Lazarus died before Jesus arrived.  Jesus speaks to the two women and cries at Lazarus’ tomb.  Then in a stunning move Jesus tells them to remove the stone covering the entrance and calls to Lazarus to come out of the tomb.  Lazarus does come out of the tomb but remains wrapped in the cloth that his body was covered with according the burial customs of that day.  Jesus then says, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”  This statement is what intrigues me the most in this passage.

I think that the reason that I am so fascinated by what the Lord says here is that it appears to be very applicable to the lives of many people, including myself.  Last month I wrote a post about removing the layers which life places on us (See “Removing Layers“).  The thoughts which I shared in that post is similar to the thoughts which the line from John 11 evokes in me.  However, I think that this line takes it a step farther than what I was referring to in the earlier post.  This line reminds me that we often get wrapped up in the garments of death even while we are living.  Beyond the concept of the resurrection after death, I believe that Jesus communicates to me in this statement the importance of removing the grave clothes while I am still living so that I may be free to live the life which God has so graciously given to me.

Over time, I have found that there are situations, settings, and individuals who seem to suck the life and the joy of life from me.  There have been many books written on the subject of toxic situations and toxic people.  Many times even after we have removed ourselves from those situations and relationships, we still wear the grave clothes that were placed on us during those times in our lives.  We need to hear the words Jesus speaks at Lazarus’ grave.  We need to remove those grave clothes so that we are free to live life.  This removal may take time or it may occur with a dramatic cutting away of sorts.  Whichever method, it appears to me that Jesus is indicating that we must do the removal.

I am confident that God has given us life to enjoy and to bring joy into the lives of others.  We all must labor but I believe that God desires us to be joy-filled.  Life is an awesome gift given to us.  I encourage all of you to remove any grave clothes you may be wearing and live in the freedom of the life which you have been so graciously given.  Live the resurrected life today; it is not just a future event for which you must wait.

Perfected   1 comment


We live in an imperfect world and we are imperfect people.  I really do not think that I have shared anything which is an earth-shattering truth in the very first sentence of this post.  Nor am I sharing any new revelation with any of you which you did not already know.  However, I wonder how often we forget this reality.  I wonder how often we expect perfection and become upset when either ourselves or someone else show imperfection.

This morning when I came to my office I encountered a laundry list of issues with the state of the building.  I was out of the office yesterday and there was activity here last night.  Now, this is not the first time that I have encountered situations such as this one.  My reaction was from the gut and I would have to admit that it was less than a positive reaction.  I spent the first fifteen minutes of the time in my office correcting the issues which I discovered.  Again, this was not part of my early arrival plans so my frustration was building with each correction I made.  When I actually was able to sit down at my desk, I wanted to impulsively send an email to the individual responsible for the building last night and share my displeasure.  However, something (or should I say someone) held me back and led me to wait until I had returned from my morning coffee time.  I am grateful that I made that decision.  While I still intend to follow-up on the issues with the appropriate person, I have determined a different way to do that follow-up.

For me what made the change was something which arose during my morning devotions.  I was looking at a passage from the Bible which included a statement from Jesus about the promise of the resurrection.  When most people think about a bodily resurrection, they are not convinced that they want to have their current physical body resurrected.  They often list all the imperfections which they have identified with their current body.  These people are fine with the concept of spiritual resurrection but shy away from the idea of the bodily resurrection which we who believe in Christ include in our understandings.  I think the issue here is the hope of everything being perfect in the presence of God and that the way they understand their physical bodies as imperfect does not fit with their desire to be perfect in the presence of God.

The key here for me is to realize that the Spirit has the power and does perfect the imperfect us.  Even at the point of our spiritual resurrection, our spirit is not perfect.  Our spirit is marred and marked by the sin of our life.  However, the Spirit perfects our spirit when Jesus places the cloak of righteousness on us as we are spiritually resurrected.  If the Lord can do this with our spirit, how do we think the Lord is any less capable of perfecting our bodies at the point of our bodily resurrection.

Yes, we are imperfect.  We are imperfect inside and out.  However, the Spirit of the Lord is capable of perfecting us.  This is important truth that we must keep in mind as we deal with one another and as we consider the promise of the resurrection.

So I want to leave you with these reminders:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, NIV)

Missing You   2 comments


Mom & Dad at College Graduation Today for some reason, my thoughts have been circling around my parents.  Early this year my Dad returned to the arms of his Lord.  My Mom has been experiencing the glory of the Lord for almost six years now.  I am very grateful for knowing that their difficulties have ended and their work is no longer laborious.  However, for some reason today I am a little sad.  This date is not significant in their or my life but today I am impacted.

There are days when I find myself thinking about them.  After my Dad’s death, I began using pictures that I had put on my computer for his tribute video as my screen saver.  When I see pictures of each of them, other family members, and the two of them together, I remember the situation during which the picture was taken.  Most days those memories bring smiles to my face.  Today, I felt a tear in my eye as I looked at the pictures.

I miss them.  Life for them and for us was not always perfect.  There were difficulties and there were fights.  But there was also laughter and joy.  Each of them brought something different as a gift to me.  I learned so many things from each of them.  I am the person who I am because they had influenced me.  I am grateful to them both.  Most importantly I always knew of their love and their never wavering support.

And today, I miss you Mom and Dad.  I will always love you!

Mom & Dad at Second Graduation

Posted May 5, 2015 by thoughtfulbeliever in Death, Family, Life

Tagged with , , , ,

A Day at a Time   Leave a comment


Image provided by en.wikipedia.org

Image provided by en.wikipedia.org

My father has entered what appears to be the last stages of his life.  I had the opportunity to visit him yesterday and have some conversation.  The conversation was far from normal since his ability to process thoughts is fairly limited.  He quickly jumps from topic to topic which can be unrelated or jump back to the same topic over and over.  There is no benefit in correcting his thoughts since he will not recall the information that you share with him.  His health is a series of good days and bad days like a roller coaster.  I share this information not in an attempt to seek sympathy or kind words from anyone but instead to give you information regarding how my family is experiencing this transition in my dad’s life.  I also share it as a basis for the thoughts I am about to write.

With my dad’s situation, it would be very easy to be discouraged and frustrated.  I could easily go into a litany of concerns which could dominate my thoughts.  I could worry about the future and how disruptive to future plans dad’s precarious situation might be.  I could sit in sadness and grief.  I could complain about all the uncertainty.  However, none of these emotions or thoughts are actually what I am experiencing.  Instead, I have adopted the approach of “a day at a time.”  I do not sit and ponder what tomorrow might mean in regards to my dad, instead I appreciate that today, dad is still present and I have an opportunity to be with him.  I am focused on his comfort and his quality of life.  I am focused on his day and what it entails.

This is an important lesson for me.  I think all of us should deal with the day that is at hand and not get anxious about the days, weeks, months, years that lie ahead.  There is value in planning for the future but there are drawbacks to trying to live in the future.  I need to live today, plan for tomorrow, and enjoy life now.  Jesus said this very eloquently:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25-34, NIV)

Well said!

Transitions   Leave a comment


Image provided by johnawarnick.typepad.com

Image provided by johnawarnick.typepad.com

Yesterday I spent the day helping my Dad go through one of life’s transitions.  He will be moving today from an apartment to a care center.  In recent months, he has had more frequent times of confusion and some memory loss.  In order to help him remain safe and healthy, my sisters and I agreed with the physician that it was time to move Dad to a place where he would have readily available assistance and some oversight.

Transitions often are not easy.  When changes occur in life there is need for adaptation and an acceptance that life is not going to be quite the same.  Often during times of transition, there is some level of grief.  This grief is the result of facing that there is some sort of “end”.  However, with an end there is also a beginning.  So while transitions mark the end of something in our lives, they also mark the start of something new.o

As a believer in Christ, I believe this can even be said about death.  I believe that death is a transition.  It is a transition from the life that we know and understand at this point to the life that the Lord tells us about and promises to each of us.  Again, this transition is not always easy.  It can be difficult for those who remain in the life we know now.  The events leading up to the transition can be difficult for the person who will experience it.  Yet, even this transition carries with it a beginning.  The beginning after death is a new life that will not see an end.  The beginning of a life that does not include the hardships, struggles, and pains of the life we know now.

I realize that Dad’s transition this week is one of those events that occur on the path to a greater transition which includes death.  However, I keep in mind that all transitions include a beginning and I celebrate the possibilities in that reality.

Hope Within Tragedy   Leave a comment


Image provide by suegraber.com

Image provide by suegraber.com

This past weekend, tragedy struck our community.  A car accident claimed the lives of two young adults in their early 20’s.  The accident also left physical and psychological injuries on the one young adult that survived.  During times such as these, there are so many questions and aspects of life can seem so senseless.  A whole community grieves.  A whole community feels a sense of loss.  A whole community wonders why.

The grief comes from the pain that is inflicted upon the families.  Families who we see on the streets on any given day.  Families who we have had some sort of connection with or have witnessed as children grow into adulthood.  While we never can understand their pain, we understand that life is now completely different for them.

We also grieve because we sense a loss.  Most obviously, we sense the loss of life.  However, I think that we also sense a loss of innocence.  Instead of hearing a sad news story on television or reading of an accident in the newspaper, the story becomes our own.  We know these individuals and we no longer can keep a distance that creates for us a feeling of innocence.  The innocence of youth also disappears when faced with this type of tragedy.  We know that the individual who survived will have to face each day with the knowledge that two friends did not survive the accident.

There are so many questions.  Why did it have to be on that road?  Why did it have to be that night?  Why didn’t they take a different road?  Why were two killed and one survived?  Why did anyone have to die?  Why did this happen to people who are so young?  Why?  WHy?  WHY? No matter how loud or long we scream the questions, the answers never seem to materialize.

Yet, in the midst of tragedy, we still are able to find hope.  The sun continued to rise and set.  The physical healing has begun.  One DID survive.  There is truly One that has the answers to all of our questions.  The One is the One who is in charge.  The One is the One who can bring healing.  The One is the One that was there on that night.  The One is the One who provided a life after this life.  The One is the One who cradled the injured.  The One is the One who welcomed the two home.  The One is the One who gave them all life in the first place.  The One is God.  Our hope is found in the One.

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

(Isaiah 40:28-31, NIV)

Ash Wednesday   Leave a comment


Image provided by kilroywashere.org

Image provided by kilroywashere.org

Today is the day in the Christian calendar when we pause to take inventory of our lives.  As people, we often seem to run from our mortality and often try to run from our sin.  This day is a day when we acknowledge both.  Throughout the world, Christians will attend a worship service where ashes are placed on their foreheads and they are reminded of both of these facts.

Some view this day as a day of sadness.  I would agree that it truly could be a day of sadness if it were not for the reality of the cross.  If we believed that at death everything ended and our existence was gone forever, then sadness definitely would fill us when we think of our mortality.  If we believed that our sin is every with us and there is no way to have it removed, then sadness would fill us.

However, we do not believe those things.  We believe that through the actions of Jesus Christ, both of these concerns are removed.  First, through his death on the cross, we have been given forgiveness for any and all of our sin.  Second, through his resurrection on Easter, we are given eternal life beyond the grave.  So this does not need to be a day of sadness.

Instead, today is a day that reminds us of why Good Friday and Easter are so very important.  We are reminded of our sin and the resulting death.  Yet, we are also reminded of our forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life.