After This Breath

In a way, every step we take in this life carries us through the valley of the shadow of death. Every breath, every heartbeat, every word, every moment– all are limited and overshadowed by the reality that we live in a world that is dying. Some days we can forget it, or we can ignore it; we can celebrate and rejoice and not remember that this world is just a vapor– this life just a breath.

The truth is that we can never know real, true, pure happiness on this earth. Because we are made for more than this dying life. We are made for eternity.

My husband’s grandfather passed away on Sunday morning. He was a great man who, along with his wife who died ten years ago, inspired my husband to learn and grow and to love knowledge. He served in World War 2 and he was, quite literally, a rocket scientist. More than that, he was a faithful member of his church who served the Lord by serving others. He volunteered with Meals on Wheels and other organizations until he just simply couldn’t anymore. He embraced me into his family without question. I was honored to be a part of his life.

Sunday night, in the middle of my daughter’s birthday celebration, my husband had to take a phone call about Grandpa’s funeral. All mixed in with our joy and fun because our sweet little miss is three, there was sorrow. Grief. It seemed to have no place there.

On Friday my husband will receive his Master of Divinity degree in Iowa while his grandfather is being laid to rest in Missouri. Death casts this long shadow over our joy and excitement. I cry out to God and I ask Him why now, why here, why? Why not just one day of pure joy? And in quietness and stillness He answers. There is nothing on this earth that is not mingled with sorrow. When Eve bit the fruit, when Adam took that cursed taste– everything fell.

This is why we need hope; why we cling so desperately to money or beauty or relationships or politicians or inspirational stories– because we know in our heart of hearts that we were made for more than this dying life. But none of those things will ever give us what we need. They are empty, just like the rest of life here, under this sun . . .

because we need Jesus.

Because the sin and death that Adam and Eve brought upon this earth they passed on to every one of their children, and when we are honest with ourselves we know it is true. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory— He so holy, we so vile– the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked— we can never, ever stand in the presence of pure holiness because we are sinners. The payment for sin is death— death, separation from God forever, separation from the very thing we so desperately desire. We can do nothing to bridge the gap between death and life eternal; we could do all the good things in the world for all our lives and it could never be enough– all our righteousness like filthy rags. And so it is hopeless for us. We live our lives under the shadow of death and go to our eternal reward in its darkness, and that is all.

Except it isn’t.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not die, but have everlasting life. And this changes everything. This is the answer for our death and our despair and hopelessness. This is it. God sent Jesus, and Jesus died in my place and in yours and He paid those wages of sin so we wouldn’t have to and God says believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Saved from death, from hopeless eternity– saved to life abundant and forever!

This isn’t the kind of thing I normal post in this blog, but I want you to know this. It is so important. When I was five years old I realized I was a sinner and that my sin had separated me from God. And I knew that Jesus had died in my place and could save me if I believed on Him. And I did. And I do. And so I have hope, even in times of grief, even in the sorrow of losing two men I loved in one year, even in the unknown of the future and the daily walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I fear no evil, because He is with me. Because I am His child.

I would love for you to know it to. All you have to do is believe. And if you do, my friend, then someday– someday soon, after this dying life is over– after this breath– there is forever, unending, unadulterated eternal joy. With Him.

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