As a catastrophic thinker, a badge I wear with dishonor, I am excellent at imagining horrific event that could happen to any and all I love. Long ago, I prohibited myself from WebMD, Caring Bridge websites, Dateline, and Lifetime. But being as I am an extremely gifted and talented fear-producer, I can come up with scenarios ex nihilo, out of nothing. No prompts. No fodder for fears needed. My crazy brain and heart are more than sufficient, thank you very much.
In light of this, the context of my heart and mind on most days, the last words and wishes of Paul to Timothy are as soothing and refreshing as aloe is to sun-scathed skin. Paul, whose life had been no cake walk, knew he was dying and said so calmly, thoughtfully, hopefully. His view on death was no fabricated, Hallmark-y, euphemistic denial meant to help ease Timothy’s grief and confusion. His view of death flowed naturally from his view of life, real life, messy life. Both these views were informed and transformed by His view of God.
I am already being poured out a drink offering. The time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course; I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
I want that. I want that for me, I want that for my children, I want that for friends suffering from cancer and children suffering in Iraq and Palestine. I want that for each of us as we approach sure death. And I think it is attainable. I don’t think it is easy or glamorous, but I know God does not give us examples in the Bible and history to make unattainable heroes out of them. He gives us narratives to show that He can and means to do the same in messy, broken, fearful us.
A Fitting Finale
Poured out as drink offering; It sounds pretty.
But day in and out, real sacrifice looks gritty.
But You are well worthy of our being spent;
You died and rose, so the curtain was rent.
Liquify me at the warmth of your love;
Daily pour me out, my Father Above.
Drops on Your altar, gathered and known,
Empowered by gushing blood of Your own.
Living in this manner, prepare me for death;
Faithful daily dying leads to faithful final breath.
As the finale must fit the tenor of the play,
Approach to Death is shaped by approach to today.
Lord, help me to view life as gift, not as right;
Then I’ll be unflinching at death’s dark night.