May 29, 2006

Horse 557 - Life on Rent

About 10 years ago I was on a hike through the Blue Mountains when at one point I became separated from two groups and ended up walking between them. The track I was on happened to give way and I lost all of my belongings as I fell into a river about 30 feet below (I still to this day can not swim).

I was asked on Sunday night whether or not in the following days/weeks (?) whether enough had been done for me for what was though probably to have been a traumatic experience. I can tell you at the time, that at one point the whole concept of dying really didn't hold any fear for me at all - something I'd remembered came to the fore, and again I've found the same passage of scripture.

Paul's letter to the church at Phillipi was written whilst he was in gaol. It has been held by not just a few scholars that the only way to slow down this zealous Apostle was to litterally stop him still. Without Paul being in gaol we might not have a lot of the letters he wrote. From this outlook the prospects weren't brilliant; the Romans had a fairly brutal method of administering punishment and for one who's existance threatened the very state itself, death was an easy penalty to hand out for them. Paul had reached the point where if he kept on living then he would continue work for the gospel, if he died then he would be in heaven with Christ.

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Philippians 1:20-24

I must admit that I'd given up with the idea of fearing death before then, and that if I happened to die of exposure in what turned out to be below freezing conditions, then I didn't care any more.

But looking back at the rest of my life, I could have been killed: before I was born when my parents were in a car smash, at age 12 when I nearly fell out of a peak hour train and into traffic, I've been struck by lightning on 3 occasions (though 2 were probably my own fault), I've been forgotten about whilst stuck in a fridge, I parked the car off to the side of the road one night after driving a long way and awoke to find the car's nose just inches from a passing train, I could have been drowned on more times than I care to remember; I've even been caught between two countries without a visa for either.

I don't think that any of this is remarkable at all, I'm sure that if most people honestly looked back they'd find that all of us only hang onto our lives by a fragile thread. This life was given to us and in terms of actual time, 90 years is practically nothing in the scale of history.

If we live Christ-like lives, praying for God's strength, pursuing that which is good, and spreading the good news of the Gospel to those we meet then, when our death comes we can welcome it with open arms, rejoicing that we will soon be with our Savior! And if the Lord is pleased to take my life early in my years, so much the better, the less time I have to spend in a wicked world of sin. This also dispels the common idea of an "untimely death" as a myth. There can be no such thing as an untimely death if God is in control of all things. He chooses to give life, and He chooses to take it away.

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