Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Thinking About Death

This is my first post with my new eye-tracking computer. This computer is a real blessing; it feels like I’m making a fresh start, like I’ve been given a new lease on life. How ironic it is that I felt that this post should be about death.

When I was a kid, I had a friend I’ll call “Bubba.” (There were no kids called Bubba where I grew up so I figure that’s a safe name to go with). Bubba was a high-maintenance friend that never called before coming over and always seemed to show up at my house when I was in the middle of doing something important, like watching Gilligan’s Island. He was hyper and never stopped jabbering on about stuff I wasn’t the least bit interested in. No matter how disinterested I acted, he would stay for hours and would even invite himself to dinner. To my immature and selfish mind, Bubba was annoying.

Before becoming a follower of Christ, I viewed thoughts and discussions about death much like I viewed Bubba knocking at my door – an unwelcome annoyance. After becoming a follower of Christ and coming to believe that my eternity in heaven was secured, I basically put the issue of death on a shelf thinking that one day, when I was old and gray, I would have to take it down, dust it off and deal with it. Even as a Christian, I still viewed death as “Bubba.” I never thought that welcoming death into my thoughts and prayers every day would be one of the best decisions of my life.

Old age, tragic accidents and horrible illnesses remind us that invincibility (in these bodies) is a deadline1myth; we are deceiving ourselves. ALS jolted me out of that denial comfort zone and forced me to face death head on and it’s been the most life-transforming experience. I hope to convince others that thinking about death on a daily basis is good for us emotionally and spiritually. This is the exact opposite of what I believed before ALS invaded my life.

“…we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead…” (1 Corinthians 1:9)

A few months ago I read an article that listed the top 5 regrets of the dying. They are as follows:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

I wish I had stayed in touch with friends (Bubba, where are you?)

I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I suppose everyone’s list of deathbed regrets would vary from the above list, but in truth we’ll only have one regret on our deathbed: “I wish that I hadn’t lived in denial that this day would come.” All of our regrets grow out of denial about our death. One would think, as I once thought, that thinking about our death, putting ourselves on our deathbed, every day would be depressing, but I’ve discovered that the opposite is true.

Scrooge at His Own Grave in Like me, Ebenezer Scrooge wasn’t changed by reflecting on his past or even by discovering how others viewed him; he was only transformed when he came to terms with his own mortality. Obviously “A Christmas Carol” is not based on the Bible, but I believe Dickens got that part right.

“…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…” (Philippians 3)

We rightly associate Easter with life, but Jesus’ whole mission was about defeating death. He had to face death before He could defeat it and so must we.

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175 thoughts on “Thinking About Death

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  1. Wow, thank you. I’m really enjoying your posts. I needed to hear this not about being courageous. Looking forward to more posts from you.

  2. With God there is no such thing as coincidence and so I know I was supposed to come across your blog at this particular time. Although this post was written in April of last year I am drawn to it as we look ahead to Easter this year, because in the midst of life there is always death (the only constant in life, because we all will die one day). Thanks for inspiring hope in your readers; I’m grateful to have found you 🙂

  3. You have such a gift for writing. Who knew a post about death could have touches of humor? The cartoon with the Grim Reaper showing up was especially good.

    Your faith inspires me. So does your dignity and courage. You’re a man for all seasons. Well done.

  4. “I hope to convince others that thinking about death on a daily basis is good for us.”
    I have known this for a long time. Sometimes people very close to me find it disconcerting, but I have always known it .
    You have to think regularly about death in order to live life….well….what’s the best word?…. (accurately, fully, completely) none of these words touch this. And you have to live life “accurately” (et. al) in order to die well.
    I also know that dying is probably the most important thing we ever do.
    I think about you, so I came over here.
    I know you are doing all of the above…….
    But with better adjectives.
    ❤ ❤
    .

  5. On that final day, I will regret the time I should have spent in prayer, the occasions I could have witnessed, the time I did not spend w/ loved ones, the material goods I did not share w/ the poor. I can only trust that the Lord — Who sees the end from the beginning — will make up for my deficiencies.

  6. Your perspective is one of the healthiest I’ve ever encountered. My experience has been that when someone you love dies, you redouble your efforts to get more done. Finish well. Which doesn’t really mean work more. Enjoying the moment more is where Jesus is. In the moment. The story we have is already written. He knows all the chapters, none of which are a surprise. Thanks for your genuine and tender focus on this very real topic of life.

  7. Jennifer S on said:

    Hello,
    Hope all’s well. How are you? Where’s your next writing? Love you and miss you.
    Jennifer

  8. leneijapan on said:

    I enjoyed reading this and since I have a terminally ill dad about 10.000 km away from me – I can most certainly say that his perspective on his daughter and her family has radically changed. It’s amazing. Now, if only I can be the lighthouse of Jesus pointing my dad in the right direction…

  9. As I have gotten older I have come to where I think about it almost everyday. It’s not at all morbid I don’t think. If we really believe it would should look forward to it. The only sad part are the ones you leave behind for awhile!!! Lord bless you brother!!!

  10. Hi Unshakable, how are you and family? God is faithful. His love unexplainable but expressible.

  11. I got here at last!
    Agreed – it is worth reflecting on our death, to remind ourselves of who we want to be, whose we want to remain and what foot print we want to leave behind!
    Blessings!
    God is Good!

  12. Blessings to you. Great post, very thought provoking.

  13. Paul said “to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” he spoke too of being absent from the body meaning being present with the Lord, Bill I have begged the Lord to take me home to kill me to do whatever, ‘just get me out of this body for years’. Not because of my hope of eternal life as much as my desire to escape the intensity of my own disease. Now after the last 4 years of discovery, maybe I too can come to an unshakable hope, I would definitely say though as Paul “O death where is your STING? Oh grave where is your Victory?” Christ is our passover, and the last enemy to be destroyed according to REV. is death. “Therefore if any one be in Christ he ‘is’ a new creation, the old has passed away the new has come. We have come to everlasting life, and no enemy is strong enough to steal us away from the Fathers hand.

    • Thank you so much for your comments and those great verses, Hubert. I don’t think I would lose my hope if, like you, I was in great physical pain, but I certainly understand you wanting to escape that pain. I hope and pray that you’re doing better.

  14. Bill – Each time I read one of your posts, you provide me with a new and clear vision of something else I’ve set aside. My Tom turned his back on God about 5 years ago and I’ve had a really tough time dealing with the negativity in his comments. I finally felt I had to ask him to not share his thoughts with me. I had never done that before. Finally, this past week I told Tom I was going to seek out a home church, that my spiritual well had gone dry. Tom said, “I hope you’ll let me go with you.” I know Tom’s spiritually healing won’t take place overnight nor will my spiritual well be filled with one walk into the church, but I do believe it’s a step in the right direction. Thanks for being there and showing your unwavering faith time after time.

  15. Hi
    An interesting post on death…I never saw death the way you have descibed it. I never saw it in that light!
    Thank you for visiting my blog.

    Rolain

  16. Hi. I was wondering if you have read “90 Minutes in Heaven” and/or “Heaven is for Real?” I read both and now “Heaven is for Real” is a movie. I have not seen it yet, but I heard that Hollywood did a wonderful job of presenting it. Both are true stories. I’ve never seen heaven but have had “glimpses” in to the realm of the supernatural. One day we will all exchange out earthly “tent” for our heavenly mansion. Blessings!

    • Hi Sheryl. I have read “90 Minutes in Heaven,” but not the other one. Don Piper (the author of 90 Minutes) has spoken at our church. I enjoy those kind of books, in fact I am listening to the audio version of a book titled “To Heaven and Back” right now.
      I will probably buy “Heaven is for Real” when it comes out on DVD.

  17. Thank you so much for this, Bill.

  18. Hi Bill, I’m always amazed at how God works through your creative writing! I wonder if an eye tracking computer would help my father-in-law who’s paralyzed from the neck down. He has a little bit of movement in his one arm, but no fine motor skills. I will encourage him to look into it. Thank you again for sharing what God has placed on your heart. May you continue to use your creative gifts in writing! If you have time, check out my new blog post called “Recognizing God at Work.” There’s a video in it from the classes I lead for women at church. 🙂

    • Thank you, Danielle. If your father-in-law is still able to speak clearly, he should probably go with a voice-to-text system (I would much rather do that if able). Regardless, I think a communication device would greatly enhance his quality of life. Let me know if he needs any information, I have done a lot of research.

  19. As I write this I am listening to Kristene DiMarco’s “You make me brave” You are truly a remarkable human being. And Bill, you will be one of those I search for in heaven to let you know what an inspiration you always were to me. But not yet, please Lord, not yet, for you have so many more to inspire through your precious, uplifting faith! I continue to uphold you in prayer as Jewel and I walk along our community’s roads each day and God brings you to mind. Blessings always,

    • Thank you so much, Ellie. I haven’t heard that song before so I found it on Youtube and really like it; I’m listening to it as I type (that’s about the extent of my ability to multitask:-).

  20. I agree with your perspective, and you quoted my Biblical focus (Phil. 3:21-22). I live with pain as a constant companion. This keeps me mostly in bed, as well. The longer I am “vertical,” standing or sitting, the greater the pain grows. I have learned much through this, as well. We tend to view life as though we can pretty much do as we want, and this seems true to many. Freedom, however, is not found there. Freedom truly comes after we realize how helpless we are, and how much we need God’s help. Death brings that perspective, as well. It is only as we yield our life that we gain much of anything significant. Though I would not wish my circumstances upon anyone, I continue to learn so much because of it. I am seriously blessed in my infirmities. I suspect you can relate.

    • Thank you, Steve, for sharing your profound thoughts. Other than muscle cramps and other relatively minor physical pain, my ALS isn’t painful. I feel horrible for people like you that live in pain 24/7!

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