A Lesson On Living (Not Dying)

“I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”
(Psalm 118:17)

Death is inevitable. This reality strikes fear into most people’s hearts, but when you learn the lesson of this thing called life, it will bring you comfort. The truth is you cannot live to the fullest until you acknowledge your mortality. Then, and only then, can you start truly living.

God’s Word instructs us to number our days. When you consider the brevity of twenty-four hours, then you can begin to appreciate a week, a year, a decade and a generation. You must then ask yourself, what can I do with this allotment of time that God has granted me?

I visited in the hospital today with a friend who is on a heart transplant waiting list. Even though his body is weakened and frail, he is possibly more alive than he has ever been. His senses were heightened. Every word was chosen meticulously for the meaning he wanted to convey. No trivial conversation polluted his speech.

He’s living for today. This minute. This hour. This breath. And it’s enough, because he knows it’s all he’s promised. He doesn’t feel cheated, as it’s all any of us are promised. Right now. He has simply learned to appreciate the gift of now.

How can I make now worthwhile? What can I talk about that will bring value to this moment? What can I think about that will proliferate goodness into the gift of now? What eye contact can I make that will infuse depth into this conversation? Will they feel the gratitude that I am willing my flesh to convey in this embrace? These are the questions he is asking himself, and we should ask ourselves, while we are living.

His eyes follow his wife around the small hospital room with admiration as she organizes their lives. Forty years of til death do us part, and all they know for sure is they have this moment. They’ve said all the things, and tied up all the loose ends. All that’s left to do is love deeply and hope, “and hope maketh not ashamed…” (Romans 5:5)

My friend was surrounded with lines, and probes, and beeping things. He was also surrounded with books. Two stacks within touching distance, and one under his hand. Lifelines. Why does a man who isn’t promised tomorrow read books? Why does he give himself to learning and growing? Because he isn’t dying. He’s living.

Also within reach were prayer cloths. A multicolored stack, as varied as the people who sent them. Flimsy little scraps of material that shouted, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE! WE AGREE TOGETHER IN JESUS’ NAME THAT YOU ARE VICTORIOUS! YOU ARE NOT DYING! YOU ARE LIVING!” I could tell by the way he pulled them close and gave them a squeeze that he believes their message.

I knew he had figured it out, this thing called living, as he spoke about people. Family members, grandchildren, Church family, visiting ministers. This one called. That one said. Lord Jesus, bless them. The law of kindness was in his mouth, and thankfulness was in his eyes, as he spoke about the people. He’s learned that stuff and flesh are temporal, but souls are eternal.

The final way I knew he had decided to live, wasn’t in what I saw, but what I felt and heard. The witness of God’s Holy Spirit declared to everyone in the room, and spilled into the corridor with utterances assuring,

“LIFE is here!”

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.“ (Ezekiel 36:26)

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