Thursday, February 7, 2013

Violent Love - Fear of Death

Last week I woke up to a normal Sunday morning-- or so I thought. I began my routine of thinking through all the things I needed to do for the day. I started going through this process when I stopped for a minute to look outside. I saw the inches of snow covering the ground, and was completely caught off guard. I began to think through the snow routine and how my morning would change. I found out our snow plow guy was not ready to plow our parking lot. I began to worry about all the people in our congregation who might have trouble making it to church or getting into the parking lot.

I started driving to church. I called a buddy who could possibly help me figure out the parking lot situation. While I was on the call I got onto the 270 ramp from Manchester. My car fish-tailed and I did a complete 180, and was facing any traffic that would come down the ramp. I dropped the phone and tried to move off the road. Every car that came close to the ramp worried me, but not a single one came down. I got the car turned around and finally headed up the ramp toward 64/40.  After I left the ramp, I began reviewing the details about providing for my children and Mindy. I thought through all the things we have set up to make sure my family would be ok.  Putting those thoughts aside, I got to church and started shoveling.  I think it hit me later about how close I was to death. Had a single car come down that ramp, I could have been gone.

This week my friend went in for MRI results on a potential tumor. We all awaited the results and were glad they were clear. My dad had been clear from cancer for three years when it returned and he passed. One of my college friends who was going to be a pastor was killed in Iraq. We have enough to worry about with death without the threat of anybody coming into a place where we consider ourselves to be safe. But the fear of death is there. So how do we respond?

My grandpa once told me he was afraid to die because of all of his responsibilities. As a young man I thought that was a sad outlook on life. I was thrilled about heaven, but now as a dad of three and a wife, I understand what he meant.

Because of sin my life can be ripped away at any second. Sunday could have been the end for me, but it wasn’t. Why not? How does God decide? Sometimes I think it might be better if we knew. Then we could prepare. Yet, the unknown factor is good so we don’t have to contemplate our end.

The uncertainty of death leaves us with questions.  Living in a world of violence, we often observe life forcefully ripped away from people.   It is hard to watch. It is hard to take. It makes the fear of death stronger.

How do we trust the certainty of God while we face the uncertainty of death? This week we spend time hearing the response in 1 John to those who come to confuse us, and rip that certainty away. We listen to Jesus speak about the truth of knowing and believing in eternal life. It is the center of our faith to believe we are rescued from sin, death, and the devil; yet sin still plagues us everyday and makes us question and have a fear of death. This week we come back to the hope of a love so intense-- so violent that it responds to the fears we have and comes back with a hope so strong that it conquers all. Jesus came to embrace us in those moments where we face the fears of death, and remind us that He won that victory and it is ours.