Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven, But Nobody Wants To Die

I have this friend who has been living with cancer for a decade.  He's in remission now, a brief respite from the dread disease that still lurks below the surface. The whole ordeal changed him--both inside and out.  

I read his Facebook posts now with a sense of wonder. He reflects on the world with a wisdom that I long to obtain.  His outlook on the world is one that is permeated with hope, and gravitates toward truth, beauty and goodness.  

I wish so badly that I could be like him--to see the world with eyes filled with wonder, to speak honestly and plainly about what needs to be made right in society, to bear witness to Jesus without pretense.  I want all these things, but without going through the trials and tribulations that shaped him, of course. 

A song by David Crowder just went through my head as I wrote that last line:  "Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die."  

In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius wrote, "This is the mark of perfection of character--to spend each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, laziness or any pretending."  I got to thinking about those words and it led me to reflect on my own struggles to be the person I know that God desires me to be.  

I think one of the things that has helped my friend develop such a keen sense of where God is at work in the world is because he was forced to empty himself of himself.  He faced his own frailty and mortality, surrendered it and when his life was given back to him, he found it had been refined, reshaped and restored by grace.  

Most of the moments I've regretted in my life have been when I've thought I could become "like God," and live as though I have all the time in the world.  It's interesting how that mistaken belief can cause you to live in frenzy, laziness and falsehood.  

The Prodigal Son's first words in the story Jesus told in Luke 15 were "Give me...."  He wanted what he felt he was due.  His desire was to become the center of his own universe.  But when all was lost and he came to grips with his brokenness and frailty, the words he spoke to the Father were "Make me...."  When he emptied himself of himself, he desired only to be reformed, reshaped and redeemed.  

May you live today as it were your last day.  Fill it with moments of truth and beauty.  Empty yourself of yourself and be filled with the all-encompassing Spirit of God.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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