I Have a Stalker

abstract-1239384_640Death doesn’t scare Jesus.

That alone sets Him apart. Death scares me.

I’m not afraid of what happens after death. I’m confident in a future with Jesus but it’s the good-bye of death, the parting with loved ones, the unfinished work and experiences of this life that make me resistant to welcoming my end or the end of anyone I love. Plus, the process of dying is daunting and honestly, part of the reason death does scare me.

I know what you’re thinking. Because I’m a Christian I’m supposed to say that I it doesn’t. That’s the right answer. I know, but here, we’re being honest, aren’t we?

In my defense, I’m fearless in my head. From safe inside my quiet time, I say, “Bring it on.” Theologically speaking, I’m an Onward Christian Soldier warrior, prepared for any call at any moment. My brain knows there’s nothing to fear from death but too often, it sends the wrong message to my racing heart and wobbly knees. In the passenger side of the car, my theology clashes with my primal drive for safety and control, especially since my husband and I had our run-in with a guardrail last winter. I believe in being brave but sometimes that belief skids hard on the pavement and my soul limps away with road rash.

I’m not alone. Death is supremely unnerving even to hardened soldiers. Death stalks us all from the womb. We sense its breath on our necks at the worst times. Bravery isn’t the absence of fear but taking action despite one’s fear. Any fool knows death is a game-changer. Humanly speaking, there’s no coming back from death, so it’s understandably terrifying to the healthy soul who looks forward to each sunrise, another meal, every breath.

Death is a formidable enemy. Such a force against humanity, God used the heavy artillery of the cross to defeat it. Jesus, who was living, breathing, and looking forward to sunrise didn’t take that final walk to Calvary without agonizing on His knees before the Father. But when the Father said “Go,” Jesus faced death down and rose from the fight victorious, perfect love, perfect trust in the Father, lived out on the cross, conquering death. That is our reality. The truth that reigns over the truth we see. The ultimate override.

winter-633965_640I fight with panic when my husband is behind the wheel and it’s rainy or snowy as it was the night we crashed. I was nervous before – now it’s even less pretty. It’s true we took one nasty spin into a guardrail. It’s just as true that we have had twenty-seven years of otherwise uneventful car rides. Accessing that truth when I flashback to the spinout in the dark and the snow is challenging. My husband is being very patient.

Harder it is for Jesus’ followers to believe in His triumph over death on this side of glory. Here, we see death win – a lot. On the rocky soil of this life, we fall easily into the earth from which we came. Fear can set in like a winter chill and we huddle around strange fires trying to ward it off. Even though we trust Jesus, it can be hair-raising to be a passenger in His car, too.

The Apostle John saw many loved ones fall. In the years following Jesus’ resurrection, the early church suffered strong persecution. Many were martyred. John may not have seen his survival and his exile to the island of Patmos as a kindness. He who witnessed Jesus firsthand must still have longed for assurance and comfort in the land of the dead and dying.

And so, when he received the Revelation of Jesus Christ and heard His voice say, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades,” it must have come down like a cool rain after a long, torturous drought. (Revelation 1:17b-18 ESV)

Death does not scare Jesus. He owns death. He presides over death. Death is conquered. In the dead of winter, we celebrate Jesus’ birth into a world that hunted Him from the womb. He knows all about being stalked by death. King Herod took out a hit on Jesus before the child could walk and the religious rulers plotted against Him throughout His days of ministry. He knows how it is to live in a world where the grave awaits, where others plan your demise, where death waits just over the next hill.

I believe He has compassion on us as we wrestle in the valley of the shadow of death. My mind knows the truth, my soul testifies to the victory, my racing heart and wobbly knees work to absorb the truth that overrides this present reality. Jesus died and is alive forevermore. He has the keys of Death and Hades. Our lives are in His capable hands.

Even in the spinouts, even when others plot our demise, even when we turn into death’s high beams, even then, Jesus reigns and death is just a threshold where He is the door to a life where death no longer has any place to call home.

 

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3 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Cherrilynn says:

    Thank you. Once again you have masterfully written what many think but cannot put into words. My favorite statement, “He is the door to a life where death no longer has any place to call home”

  2. Your writing comes from a very gifted place, Lori, and a heart fixed on God. “For such a time as this” comes to mind. God bless.

  3. Cathy Chung says:

    This is so honest. We are human. We have rich human relationships here and grieve losing them, leaving them behind, missing out on special events. I think it would be callous to ‘welcome’ death and not have these feelings.