To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain!
As I lay in bed at 3am this morning, I woke, not knowing the time and thinking about and praying for Mom. As mom lay in her bed peacefully sleeping the afternoon before, my brother asks me “Darin, what do you think? Is Mom going to make it? Is she going to pull through?” “I believe in miracles” I told my brother, and “if God wants to heal Mom, He will”.
As I woke this morning, I prayed to God, I cried out, “O God, please heal Mom, bring life back into her body. O God, please display your power and bring Mom back to health.” I paused and reflected on that last request. “God, please display your power and bring Mom back to health”. I thought about that a few more seconds. And then the thought hit me. What a fool’s errand for me to paint God into a corner, as if He needed to heal Mom to display His power. And I realized, God doesn’t need to bring Mom back to health to demonstrate His power. His power is already displayed whether Mom lives or dies. And yet, I still felt the need to cry out to God. “God please, let Mom recover. Let her get well. Let her sit up in her bed, and let me hear her sweet voice. Let her rise up out of that bed, reach out her hand and touch my face. Let her rise and walk once again.
I thought about Christ and the miracles he performed. I thought of the time when Jesus healed a paralytic. His friends carried the paralytic to Jesus and they were so desperate, that they cut a hole through a roof and lowered the man to Jesus. The Gospel of Mark in chapter 2 records this story. it says this. [read] Much in the same as these friends, who in desperation, carried their friend to Jesus, I was carrying Mom with my prayers to Jesus, asking Him to do a miracle and heal Mom. And I deeply desired an answer to my prayer.
It is interesting, that Jesus, when faced with the request to heal the paralytic, turned to the crowd and asked them, “which is easier, to say to this man, your sins are forgiven or to tell him to rise, pick up your mat and walk?” To man, both of these prospects are impossible.
Another, more piercing question would be which was the greater need of the paralyzed man – the ability to walk again or to have his sins forgiven? As I thought about that question, it occurred to me, the greater miracle in Mom’s life is not that she would rise up out of that bed again, but that she would know and love the very Person who gave her life, and that is King Jesus. As I began to think about that, I still prayed for Mom’s healing, but I began to pray for her soul and her spirit. Lord, let Mom finish well. Let her, in these waning hours, press into You. Let her know and be comforted by You. Let her cast off anxiousness and fear as she prepares to cross over from this life to the next.
Let her take comfort in the Scripture she so often quoted to me, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Lord, I prayed, as Mom stands on this side of heaven, before she embraces the Son of God, let her receive what this paralytic received, the forgiveness of her sins. And as I dwelled on that, I thought, I really want Mom to be healed, but what I really want more than anything is for her to have her sins forgiven and for her to have the peace that comes in the assurance that when she leaves this body, this tent, that she will fall into the arms of Christ, knowing that she belongs to Him and that she will ultimately be healed of the savages and suffering of disease in this life. And in that, the greatest miracle of all, that was attained on Calvary over 2,000 years ago will finally be realized when Mom will have finished the race and will stand in glory with Christ and loved ones who have passed.
Nonetheless, selfishly, I wanted to have and be with Mom a little longer. I wanted to tell her I love her and to hear her tell me the same, and to hear her one more time tell me how proud she is of me and express her adoration of her grandchildren. And yet, I realize that ultimately, Mom belongs to God and she is His child and He loves her more than I. “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” The apostle Paul, when writing to the Philippians, wrestled with this thought. He said “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;” Phil. 1:21-24.
Now in Paul’s case, he remained in the body a little longer to carry on his ministry, fulfilling what he proclaimed in the next verse that “it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”
Lord, I prayed. I know You can do all things, and I want Mom to get well and remain on this earth a little longer, but I also know that she belongs to you and if you would rather have her at home with You, who am I to question. And when you ultimately bring her home, she will shake off this tent, this shell, and will be clothed with a new body. How do I know that? The apostle Paul, in Philippians 3 says this, “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” This is the promise of all who have confessed and repented of their sins and believe in Jesus. Mom believes in Jesus. And very soon, she walks with Jesus.
To live is Christ, to die is gain
Written by: Darin Jenningns
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