Ecclesiastes 7:1 says that “the day of death is better than the day of birth”. I have experienced this today as I attended the post-funeral Thankgsiving service of Mark Ashton, the pastor of my church here in Cambridge. A good and faithful servant has now entered the joy of his master.
Funerals and services like this put life into perspective.
It reminds me of how little time is left. There are only a few years before I see Him. Imagine, I’ll see Him in a little while! It feels unreal, it feels so far removed from the present, but I started counting my days, years, and … it’s approaching!
I imagine Him standing there, as He stood before Thomas, reaching out his hands to show the crucifixion scars to me. Here is proof of my love!
Will I have scars to show Him? “It’s your turn now”, He’ll say. “Show me the scars on your body my faithful friend”.
Paul can say “we always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Cor 4:10). It made me wonder whether I am scarred enough in this life, in this body. Have I put this body to death enough? Paul continues, “For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.” Not theories, not songs but death manifest in your body, scars, beating, celibacy, sexual purity, poverty, you fill it in…
I walked home praying over and over with tears, “Help me to die Lord, help me to die”.
I see Christians, I hear theories, I read of stories . . . most of it does not have the “stink of death”! More and more we let Him die alone…
Would you let your friend suffer by himself? Is it fair for your friend to go through a life of pain on his own? It is not fair. I don’t want to abandon you Jesus. Friends suffer together, friends do not leave each other to pursue their own individual happiness. You have been a friend, I want to be yours. Help me die!
I want to carry His death in my body, I want it to smell like the cross. Here is my body broken for you, DO THIS so that I am remembered. Break your body for His sake. I want to see more people denying themselves, I want to see His death bringing forth fruit of more death in His church, more people ready for the lions, ready to suffer with their friend.
I find that I don’t want to die because I stopped seeing His glory. The heavens are not open before me, like Stephen. I do not see Him seated and exalted and glorified. I think, perhaps there is something more glorious than this to see? There is no other joy, there is no greater glory.
I stopped believing that He is able to perfect His bride, to present her without fault, His death was useless, a museum item. Help me die. Let the seed of your death flower and blossom in your church.
I got home, sat on my desk and thought that soon I will gaze into His eyes. Like I look at you, so real, so here. And I want to gaze deeply and as He looks back in me to say “you are like me, I recognize myself in you”.
I don’t want to lower my eyes to the ground, I don’t want to give a fake kiss on the cheek. I want to connect with him deeply, I want one scarred hand to shake the other, I want to see His tears of joy saying, “I didn’t die alone, I was the firstborn of all the dead who followed me.”