Today I have the great privilege of hosting my friend Isabelle Ingalls on the blog! She’s a huge inspiration and encouragement to me, and I’m delighted to let her share more about the wondrous, eternal hope we have in Christ. Make sure to check out her blog when you’re done here!
Are you afraid of dying?
I’m not talking about healthy, natural fear, that keeps us from sticking our hands into fires and from standing too close to the edge of cliffs. Those seem like fairly rational precautions, and I’ll support them. Nor am I talking about the fear of the unknown of eternity, for as Christians we should have none of that; and if you do, please send me a message, and I’d love to chat.
No, I’m talking about a fear of dying, because you’re afraid of missing out.
You’re afraid of missing out on being married. On graduating college. On getting to retirement. What if I die before I have kids? What if I die before I finish my book? What if die before I become a world-famous such and such, before I can start my great ministry, before I become a CEO, before I help others in this grand way, before I experience this and accomplish that and see the world? What if I die before?
Perhaps we don’t say it out loud. We end our prayers with “Lord Jesus, come soon.” Yet so often we add after, “But not yet.” Our subconscious shouts it. “Not until I meet Mr(s). Right. Not until I graduate college. Not until I get to hold my babies.” Yes, we know that being with Jesus will be great and wonderful — but, well, we still want to experience those things.
Because we think they’re comparable.
Now don’t get me wrong. If you know me, you know I delight in life. I love snuggling with my little brother and singing at the top of my lungs and having coffee with friends. And I want to someday snuggle with my own kids and sing at the top of my lungs with my spouse and go on road trips with my friends. Those are all good, beautiful things to want.
But it’s when we want them before Jesus that we run into trouble.
So often in the back of my head I can find the thought, Yeah, being with Jesus is all you’ll ever want. But you’ll never feel your breath catch as the man you adore gets on one knee in front of you. So maybe — it won’t be all you’ve ever wanted.
Yes, being with Jesus is all you’ll ever want. But you’ll never hold your kids, singing them lullabies and reading them your favorite stories and helping them get ready to go off into the world. So maybe — it won’t be all you’ve ever wanted.
Yeah, being with Jesus is all you’ll ever want. But you’ll never see your dream grow to fruition, blessing hundreds of people; and you’ll never go on random road trip adventures, laughing with your friends as the wind whips your hair; and you’ll never taste and feel and see all the sights and sounds you’ve always wanted to. So maybe — it won’t be all you’ve ever wanted.
We hear the maybes in our mind, echoes from the first one in the garden, whispering, “Did God really say?”
But they’re lies.
No, it won’t be all we’ve ever wanted. It’ll be more.
The maybes are wrong; we can’t even begin to imagine or want the reality as we should.
But when we allow the maybes to grow, when we worry over missing out, aren’t we truly worrying that Jesus will be less? Less than being with a human who messes up and never fully understands us. Less than raising little humans who throw tantrums and follow their own schemes. Less than the feeble echoes of eternity in our broken, skewed world.
Even on the best days, when the sky is painted with pink and orange, and everything seems quiet and beautiful and perfect, we know it can’t last. They’ll fade into the night, and the red sun will rise on our chaos again. We’re pining for mud pies in our slum. Eternity with Jesus is so much better than that.
Because eternity means being with the Prince, who has pursued us throughout history, giving His own life to make us His bride.
Eternity means being reunited with our true family, living together in perfect delight, all in harmony worshipping Him.
Eternity means dwelling with the One Great King, who has called us His friend, who came down to be with us, Immanuel, who is the fullness of our joy and the satisfaction of every longing we’ve ever had.
“O Death where is your victory? O Grave where is your sting?” is a triumph cry of Christ’s ultimate victory in salvation, yes. But if He has plundered the great enemy, has He not destroyed the smaller as well? The sting of a sin-entrapped death is destroyed; the sting of a things-yet-undone death is eradicated too.
All things are under His dominion, including the timing of our lives. He has authored every moment. We need not worry that He’ll leave our character arcs unfinished, or a goal uncomplete. Our stories will end–or rather, step into the most beautiful of stories that never ends–at His precisely perfect moment.
If there’s anything that petrifies us and plunders our days, it’s fear. But when you’re not worried by death, you have time for life. There’s no rush to finish anything, there’s no urgency to get that one last project in. You know you’ll go home precisely when your work here is done.
But you woke up this morning. There’s breath in your lungs. So there’s still more for you to do.
So live like you’re not afraid of dying.
Isabelle Ingalls is a 20-year old writer seeking to see the reminder and reflection of Christ’s glorious Gospel in all of life. When not writing, you can find her working with children, singing and dancing around the house, and discussing theology with friends over hot chocolate. You can find more of her writing on singleness, adoption, Narnia, thunderstorms, stories, and Christian living at Seeing Everything Else.