Tag Archives: Important

Speaking Of Death The difference between not fearing death, and not really living.

cemetery

A good friend remarked recently that death or dying came up frequently in our family’s conversations. His comment was more a good-natured jab, I think, as we were all enjoying funny thoughts and stories, joking around.

But I have thought about that since. I wondered if we perhaps give death—one of God’s enemies, defeated by Jesus on the cross1—too much air-time in our daily conversations and thoughts?

I do not imagine us to be morbid, by any definition. But neither do we fear or avoid the biological fact that each of us will expire at some point in the unknown future. The passing of our good friends, family, and friends of friends is, of course, a constant reminder of that fact of life, just as it is for you.

One reason we can so confidently discuss our own deaths without fear is that we are confident in what lies beyond. When we die we are with him in paradise2; to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord3; this world is not our home4. All of those truths (and more) assure our hearts that death is nothing to be feared, rather it will be a welcome door to our true, eternal home.

On the other hand, while it is right to so fully trust God with our souls that we do not too tightly grasp this life, a point can be made that too much focus on the next life will cause us to miss where we are right now. Where God has placed you, and is with you, right now.

We just released a new song last month. (My wife and I are musicians, working on a new album.) The song is called This Journey. I sometimes wonder if people will interpret the lyric of this song incorrectly.

“All along this path of life is where the real treasures are”

I know that our true home—that goal toward which Paul reminded us we press forward, our whole lives—is heaven, eternity with God and his people. I know that. That is the “real treasure”. What I hope to inspire with the words (and music) of that song is a renewed joy in sensing, seeing where God is right now, right here, right where we are. In the beauty of the things he has made, in the people whom he has surrounded us with, in the very fact that we are breathing, our hearts beating.

There are two extremes. One focuses entirely on the eternal and misses the present, while the other focuses entirely on the present (which will pass away, just as we will) and misses the eternal. I think there is a balance found between the two, where God is with us all along our journey.

A quick, related aside:

There is a man we know from our college days at Cincinnati Bible College (now Cincinnati Christian University) who has battled physical ailments for quite a while now. His name is Rod. Rod is always smiling, always loving other people (like, beyond-your-imagination loving), that’s just who he is. I happened to catch a Facebook post of his (actually posted by another on his behalf) that was essentially a good-bye to all his friends. It seemed his body was most likely ready to give out, and he would be home with Jesus soon. He wrote that he was not afraid, but would also be glad to stay, much like Paul in his letter to the Philippian church.

The short version of the rest of Rod’s story—which, as far as I can understand, is amazing—is that God has brought him through that! For now, he has much (or all?) of his health back. He is grateful to God for more time to serve him here, with the people he loves.

And this is my point. While we can be fully, confidently, supremely unafraid of death because Jesus has overcome that, and death is not our end… there is still an amazing joy (even in hard times) of waking up to a new day God has given us here, now.

I’m sure that when I die, whenever, however that will come to me, there are seven people in this home who will miss me. (They seem to be rather fond of me.) There are others, too, I know. (Hi Mom and Dad!) But my hope is that I can, do, and will live my life in such a way that it is fully known that I will be where I am made to be, and any sadness will only last for a short time. And, mostly, that all would know I lived my life to its full, with and in Jesus.5

It may be after I pass a hundred years in this body, or it may be next week. We can’t know, and I understand that is what can cause us to fear. But if our trust, our hope, our life is in Jesus, we have nothing to fear.

And we will also truly live here. And forever.

Shortage of Time

Shortage of Time

I feel like a broken record sometimes.

No matter how many years (or decades) I have traveled the solar circuit… I feel like I keep learning the same lessons.

One of those is this: we have a limited time here—so make the most of it.

This is not a “rah-rah” post intended to inspire you to some unimagined greatness. But I do hope that, like me, you’ll be reminded that somethings are not worth fretting over.

Some things are.

It’s not so much that fretting, worrying, bothering, troubling ever does any good. All of that originates with fear. Fear of losing, fear of changing, fear of any bad that might come.

Not that it’s bad to concern ourselves with some things. Things like your kids who are growing up, your spouse who misses precious time with you, your parents who are aging, close friends with whom you’ve inadvertently lost contact… at least, you think it was inadvertent.

There may even be some dream, begun way back with your earliest memories, that the relentless rush of life and obligations has pushed aside.

We have a limited time. It is certain that one day—we don’t know when—our time here will be done.

So live.

Dream. Love. Enjoy. Experience. Now is the time.

What got me thinking about this again was not just our friends who are dealing with stage four cancer, nor any news of sudden, unexpected death of anyone close to me. Nor was it the frustrations of financial finagling that we are caught up in again (for what seems like now far too long).

It was more the words of my daughter, commenting more often lately that “all [you] ever do is work, Dad!” Her heart is longing to connect with mine. (And we do connect, but she wants more.)

It was even thoughts of a life that I have often thought of pursuing, but always turned aside from because of the demands and obligations of life. But I am recently reminded: truly, if you want something to happen… you must simply do it.

And then there’s our son. The first person to transform me from son to father. He’s fifteen, going on twenty-five. We butt heads now and then—a strong Campbell trait—but I admire him more than clash with him. It’s just fun to root him on in his various endeavors: all-star goalie, aspiring novelist, farmer, mechanic, among others.

Sometimes reality knocks loudly enough and I am reminded that this current season is likely ending soon.

Before we blink, our son will be moving on—his adult life is nearer than I can really understand. He’s ready now to do something—anything—with all that he is learning. Then, who knows? Wife… kids… I was only 24 when Ian was born.

But we’re not there yet.

And I’m brought back to where I started. Reminded again of things already learned. Live now, today. Don’t miss it.

Are you missing your life for want of whatever is next, or seems to be missing? Sometimes I focus on those.

This week, I have work to do, and life to balance… but I don’t want to miss my life while I’m doing those things.

Like you, I have a shortage of time. I don’t know when the end will come, but I do know that it will.

Since it has not yet come… Let’s choose to live now, as best as we are able.