Death is Never Convenient

(Though I veered far off course of the actual blogging assignment today, I needed to write this. Further, I needed to publish it, because I cannot sit back silently any longer, hiding behind my lack of eloquence, while black is turned white and upside down becomes right side up. Others may write and speak much more succinctly, but I must add my voice.)

Supporters of the right to die law feel a terminally ill individual should have the right to determine the when and how of their final moment, thereby avoiding some of the pain and misery of waiting for a natural shutdown. Consideration for family and friends is also eschewed, reducing their time of struggle in watching and waiting for a loved one in the process of death, as well as reducing medical costs for longer care. This is referred to as dying with dignity, though assisted suicide is another term used.

Wait. Think about that phrase a moment – assisted suicide. Suicide is self-killing, self-murder. When the word assisted is included, there is now an accomplice to murder, if not the murderer himself. But assisted suicide sounds so much more acceptable. Someone is killing another person; albeit, with their permission and at their request (for now,) and legally in some states. Nevertheless, someone in the medical profession – a profession that is supposed to do no harm – is now intentionally killing another person.

Having agonized through the slow deaths of both my parents, I am not without understanding of the struggles involved. In the last days of my mother’s life I wanted her freed from the cancer ravaging her body – and me freed from the suffering of watching. Yet it was not up to her or me or the caring Hospice people to say, “Enough.”

Years later, my father’s dying process was much slower, much less convenient. In addition to some other pretty severe physical issues, we had years of the long goodbye, as Alzheimer’s Disease is frequently called. In the hardest of days, whether his or mine, I wanted his life, such as it had become, to be over. I didn’t want my father to suffer any more of the cruelty of this disease, ending up curled into the fetal position on his bed, unaware of anyone or anything. I also wanted to be free of the pain of seeing the decline day in and day out, as well as the responsibility for caring for him. Yet, even in those helpless and almost hopeless days, my prayer was always that his last moment not be even one breath too soon.

They were shells of their former selves by the time they took their final breath – my mother hardly recognizable because of cancer, and my father unable to communicate or discern his own family. Both, however, died with dignity, their care having been given in love and compassion, their pain having been eased without being overmedicated.

Regardless of what is allowed by government, humans were not given the right or responsibility to determine the date and time of death any more than the moment of creation and birth. Every day is given by God, and there is purpose in every breath given by God – every single breath – though we may not understand suffering that comes with it.

bright crossThe root problem stems from the Garden of Eden, when the serpent convinced Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil so they could “be like God.” It’s the same story today. We still want to be the god of our life. Only the truth is, there is no one like God. Further, His plans are good and for the good of each one of us. And . . . He works everything together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. He has promised, Jesus Christ being the proof of His faithfulness.

We are not god, nor God. We don’t know enough, though we think we do, to determine our life and death. But that’s a good thing, for we can know the One Who does, and trust Him implicitly, even in our lack of understanding. Therein is peace. Therein is rest. Therein is freedom. Therein is life – real life.

The Spark For My Party

I was in the middle of a big party.  Actually, it was a party gone too far – from pity-party to temper tantrum – all because of some physical issues in my body.  Right in the midst of all the tears and rants toward my Daddy, I was shown an old, yet vivid, snapshot of a precious dog named Sparky.  Why was the Lord reminding me of him now?  If I share the specifics, maybe it will make sense to both of us.

Sparky was a full-grown cock-a-poo (more cock than poo) when I rescued him from the side of a busy thoroughfare.  With a long, barrel-shaped chest and short legs, he was never a swimmer (too much body and too little legs).  As a healthy younger dog, that was not an issue, since he avoided the pool unless he sat on the float with me – one of our favorite pastimes.  With aging, however, came blindness from cataracts and strokes that left him unbalanced in his walk.  Because he usually confined himself to a small area in the fenced backyard, though, we continued to let him out on his own for short periods of time.

One morning, we got busy with other things and forgot about Sparky after we let him out.  When we remembered, we panicked when he wasn’t waiting at the door.  Though fearing the worst, we were greatly relieved to find him sitting on the top step of the pool.  Thankful, though filled with thoughts of what could have happened, we rushed to retrieve, dry, and reassure Sparky, but we were really the ones who needed the reassuring.

Sparky wasn’t frantically trying to get out of the pool by that step, a useless endeavor with his short legs.  He wasn’t trying everything else he could think of to save himself.  Nor was he even barking to attract our attention.  No, with complete peace, he simply sat on that step enjoying the morning sun, waiting patiently, fully assured that we would be there for him.

Ephesians 3:19 AMP  [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience];

Right now, I needed to think about why Sparky had such peace in what should have been a frightening situation.  It was the love we had shown in his previous trials.  How much greater is my heavenly Father’s love for me in the trial I face right now!  How much greater can my peace be!  I will only wear myself out trying to fix my situation.  But God!  From previous experience with His love and His Word, I am assured that He is always with me and is my rest!

2 Timothy 1:12 KJV . . . for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

I’d love to say the struggle is over, but it’s not.  It’s an ongoing process as He gently leads me from a head understanding to a heart revelation, without being troubled by my slowness.  I even asked why I’m not yet in that rest, even though I see what He’s revealed.  Lovingly, He pointed out that Sparky wasn’t staring at the step he couldn’t climb, nor the water in which he could have drowned.  His gaze was above the circumstances.  How simple.  My focus needs to be on Jesus, regardless of symptoms.  When I look for His face, I find His all-sufficient grace for my time of need.

Thank You, Lord, for Your all-sufficient grace and unconditional love for me!  Thank You, also, for sending Sparky to my party!

Will You Rest?

I just love the Bible!  And I just love how Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see so much more in familiar passages, proving all over again that the Word truly is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).  Take for example, Matthew 11:28-30, which I include in both the NIV and the Amplified versions.

NIV  “28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Amplified  “28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]  29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.  30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good – not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.”

This passage is one to which I am frequently led by the Holy Spirit.  When I allow it to work in me, releasing the burdens I have been carrying on my own, I do, indeed, find His rest once again.  Recently, though, the Lord helped me see in a different way, which makes it even more alive for me. As I am preparing to lead a team to China at the end of March, the details – even for a detail-oriented person – have become somewhat overwhelming to me.  In a time of prayer concerning the trip and the people going, not even focusing on personal details at that moment, the Lord asked me the simple question, “Will you rest?”

I responded as honestly as I could with the following, as recorded in my journal:  “I will only rest if You help me, because I don’t know how, Lord.  I’m unable on my own.  Yes, Lord.  I’ll take Your yoke upon me and learn of You.  You said, ‘Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’  Lord, I’m coming to You.  I choose not to do this my way, but Yours.  I lay my yoke down, for it’s much too heavy for me (or anyone), and is designed to oppress and wear me out.  I choose Your yoke and Your burden – for me – and I walk in Your peace and rest, even in the busy days and times.”

His response came into my heart, giving additional revelation of this part of His Word:  “Wear it as a mantle, Kay.  Yes, it’s a cloak, not a hard piece of wood that rubs blisters and leaves splinters, cuts, scars.  My yoke and My burden actually cover and protect you as you walk with Me – even in times of hard work and effort.  That’s how you stay in My peace and rest.”

I’ve always pictured myself taking off the heavy yoke and letting Jesus put His easy yoke over my shoulders with Him carrying the weight of it.  The yoke I pictured, though, was still the same kind – a big beam of heavy and rough wood.  How wrong I’ve had it!  His yoke for me is actually a mantle, the cloak of His anointing – His grace – perfectly fitted to me and enabling me to do what He has called me to do!  Staying within the covering of His yoke helps me learn of Him, which keeps me protected in His peace, no matter what goes on around me.  This is resting in Him!  This is living in His peace!