Archive for the ‘Death’ Tag

Grave Clothes   3 comments

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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.


Trusting God   Leave a comment

Sometimes the world seems filled with so many things which we just cannot understand.  This week we heard of more senseless shootings.  We look around and see people killing one another with bombs, guns, and all other fatal attacks.  We hear of situations that just do not seem to make sense.  So this morning I am reminded that there is someone we can trust to get us through these situations.  There is someone who always has our best interest at heart.  There is someone who can take a horrific, or even just a troublesome, situation and sort it all out.  I share this music video with you to remind you of where to place your trust even when everything may seem dark around you.

Reflecting   6 comments

Dad at ChristmasI have had some time to reflect on life over the past week.  With the death of my dad, I spent time looking back on his past and my own.  I also had opportunity to see the lives which he touched.  Preparing a video presentation for his service and an obituary, I was able to connect with parts of his life which I did not know or had forgotten.  All of this allowed me, and others, to take time to celebrate the life which my dad lived.

As I reflect upon my own life, I am amazed how much I have gone through and all the changes which have occurred in my life.  I am sure that all of us can say that we are not the same person we were 30 years ago, 20 years ago, maybe even 10 years ago.  Overall, this changes and adaptations are good and part of the growing process.  Yes, there are parts which we regret or wish had not occurred, but the truth is that even in those parts, there is something positive that has resulted.  I am glad that I am not the same person that I used to be.  The way I look at life and respond to life is better as a whole.  The joys far outweigh the sadness.  The opportunities seem greater instead of limited.  The hopes and dreams change but are not gone.

I am grateful for my dad.  He was not perfect but he taught me how to live even though I am imperfect.  He had a quiet approach to life which is generally opposite from mine.  He observed more than he ever told anyone about.  When he spoke, he was listened to because he did not speak a lot.  He was humble and was satisfied with a humble living.  I can continue to learn from him.  I will try to use his life as a guide for my life even though I am not the same man as he.

Thank you Dad!  I love you and will always love you!  Thank you for the lessons that you taught me and the many lessons I will still learn as I remember you far into the future.

Posted February 10, 2015 by thoughtfulbeliever in Family, Life

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A Day at a Time   Leave a comment

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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

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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

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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

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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.