Monday, October 19, 2009

True Life (in the face of death):

Philippians 1:21
For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 

This week I experienced this verse more powerfully than I have ever experienced it before.  This week, the reality of life and death were staring me in the face.  This week, I witnessed the brevity of life, powerless against the impending pledge of death.   You see, this week I said goodbye to a beloved man, as he passed from life into death. 

My Uncle Abe, or Hemo as we affectionately called him- unexpectedly passed away on October 14, 2009 at only 57 years old.  It was a sudden loss and it took us all by surprise.  We were left with feelings of sadness, confusion, regrets, and denial as we faced this hasty new reality.  The pangs of pain and sorrow were so real in those moments.  They still are.  But eventually, the loud noise of sorrow began to part for just a moment- and God began to whisper truth. 

As my husband John and I were traveling the 13 hour trek to the funeral this weekend, we happened to be listening to an old John Piper sermon.  The sermon was regarding the sanctity of life, and John Piper spoke truth that has not stopped ringing in my ears:

Eternal life is more important than temporal life.  But the effect of really believing that we have eternal life in Jesus Christ is that we spend ourselves in this life, not maximizing our comforts here, but showing His love here- especially for the weak and helpless.  

Piper went on to challenge Christians today, to truly live their lives for Christ- remembering that our eternal vacation awaits us in heaven.  For in that is true gain.  We forget that sometimes, don’t we?  We forget that this life is not meant for earthly gains, but rather, passionate, infatuated, obsessive service for the love of Christ.  We forget that this life isn’t meant to be lived as though it is the only, but rather, whole-hearted preparation for the next.  We tend to spend our lives investing in the here and now.  The salary, the house, the cars, the toys, the fun.  Our life begins to represent that we believe that “to live is self” rather than “to live is Christ”.  But, hear this, to live is Christ…. 

Do we really understand what that means?  Do we really understand what it means to live for Christ?  To live in Christ?  To live IS Christ?  What an important fact to face with the cloud of death still hanging over our heads.  As my late college chancellor used to always say: Only one life, will soon be passed.  Only what’s done for Christ will last. 

To live is Christ, to die is truly gain.  This is life.  True life.  What a sobering reminder.

R.I.P. Hemo: We miss you...


  1. Thanks Deb for sharing how God is speaking to you through your pain and loss, and the sobering reminder of how we should live as believers.
    I believe this is the radical life God calls us to live as His children. We're able to live this radical life in Christ as He imparts, by his grace and through his power, this new life in us.
    "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

  2. Thank you for sharing Deb. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. As I read this, my subjective view was to see this as a call to action. Everyday I need to wake up and say, perhaps even out loud," what is God calling me to do with this gift of earthly life? How can I make a positive impact on those I meet with today?"




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