Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thinking about your Dying Day

PSALM 39:4  LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.

Click here for previous study I prepared in my youth on Preparing for a Safe and Happy Death: 

For Drivers-Ed my daughter was required to write a letter to her parents expressing her sorrow for recklessly driving the car and involving herself in accident which brought about her demise.   The instructor hoped it would add a necessary soberness to the young soon-to-be-drivers-ed graduate.   My daughter thought it would be a good opportunity to rejoice in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Below is the letter she submitted to the instructor.   There is a necessary degree of license as she fulfills the requirements of the assignment. She writes as if she could speak from the casket, which of course is not possible - nor are there any tears on the other side.  Note: I removed the names and replaced the name of the eating establishment to protect the innocent and her privacy.

Dear Mom and Dad,

It is evident that I am now experiencing the Apostle Paul’s words, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”  1Cor. 5:3

I am so sorry. The tears as I write this are heavy on my cheeks because of my actions. All the pain, hurt, and grief I have caused you and others. I didn’t just hurt myself on the corner of 39th St. but everyone else I love.

Why, oh why must it be this way? Why can’t I just rewind time and erase all the hurt I have caused? Why couldn’t I have just, turned my head, looked, and slowed down?! That’s all it would have taken to save all the pain and sadness.

I can imagine R___ and K____, crying together with you, praying that you, S____, A____, J___, K___, and themselves can go through the day, with rejoicing, confident that all things, work together for good to those who love God, so that God will be praised even through this.

J___ and K___, giving themselves so selflessly to help with anything you might need while they, themselves, cry out to God for mercy on their grieving hearts.
S____ and A____, each night, crying themselves to sleep. Trying to remember all the times I made them laugh. Forgetting all the times I’ve bossed them around like an annoying selfish big sister. Thinking, “Oh why did L___ have to be so careless? Why couldn’t I have been there to warn her?” and asking, “God, oh God, help me, Lord, calm me, use this as an opportunity to be closer to you, to know you more.” and “Please keep me alert and attentive when it’s my turn to drive.”

Each sister, taking turns waking up in the morning to make Dad breakfast, throwing pillows on each other's head to get the other one out of bed for breakfast, eventually the one still in bed yelling, in a groggy, angry, tired voice, “I’m coming, I’m coming, leave my room and shut my door!” I can see it just like it was yesterday. Then at breakfast opening the Bible and reviewing Jude, the first book we girls studied with you, Dad, at the start of our weekly Bible studies at the local grocery-store-with-dining-facilites.

Oh! Please forgive me for all that pain! It’s like a disease spreading to all my friends, family, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Mom and Dad, I know that you loved me and that your sorrows are exceeding.

But, do not trouble yourselves, take comfort. God is in control of all things. Like saving you both on the same day. I praise God that He saved both of you. He gave me the greatest parents I could have ever asked for. Parents who love each other so much, but only because you love God more.

Mom, I was really noticing how wise God has made you. I remember thinking most of my life that you were smart, but I was so sure I was much smarter in most areas. Looking back at my life and all the things you’ve shown me through your actions, and words, I see how much God has used you to change the way I say, think and do things in a way that’s more like Christ. Like how I should be a hard worker and not complain, as you, yourself, do every day. You’re definitely not complaint-free, but if I was doing all that you do for us, I’m sure I would complain lots more than you ever would. I complain about just the little things I do.  I have no reason to complain, God’s given me Christian parents, wonderful brothers and sisters, work which is part of living and to be done joyfully for God’s glory, and God gave me a changed heart, so I might know the joy of serving my creator.
I love the way you discern how to do things and why. I see that your wisdom comes from God. When you don’t know if something is right or not, you go to the Bible, and not to your own wisdom, knowing our hearts are desperately wicked and deceitful above all things. Jer. 17:9

I love how you randomly start telling us something you’ve been thinking about or reading about. Often times when I was thinking about something serious, I thought back on those talks and God used them to help me understand himself more.
What a great God to make you such a mother!

Dad, that which was the start of the biggest part of my life, began the day you took me to "the local-grocery-store-with-dining-facilities" for breakfast, which became our, “Weekly breakfast and Bible study”. It was the start of our weekly “Breakfast and Bible study at the-local-grocery-with-dining-facilites”, at first, attended only by you and I. God used those studies in the scripture to show me so many unfathomable things about Himself. He used them to open my eyes enabling me to understand: why you and mom love each other so much, why Christians love God and actually want to know more about Him, why everything works together for good to those who love God, why Christians go to other countries to spread God’s name.

Dad, God opened my eyes through our Bible studies to what happened when 9 years ago, I was up late at night crying. It was God’s grace showing me how sinful I was, that I did not love Him, and so I came to you the next morning to pray that God would change my heart and come into it.

And through our Bible studies, God showed me that we are all sinners, and we can’t save ourselves because of this fact. Only someone without sin can pay for our sins. But no one is without sin because we are all counted sinful through Adam and have fallen in him. But Jesus, God’s only begotten son, came to earth to die for us. And He was the only one who could do it. Because He is one hundred percent God and one hundred percent Man. He had to be fully man to pay for our sins because man brought sin into the world, and he had to be fully God because all men are counted sinful. Only a sinless man can pay for sin. But He not only paid for sin, he also lived a perfectly righteous life on earth, in our place, so that this righteousness was counted to us as ours, God treating us as if we had done what He did. He bore the cup of God’s wrath. Because we are at war with God, Jesus bore the wrath God would have had upon us sinners. So now our sin is paid for, Jesus paid for it. We don’t have to bear God’s wrath, because Jesus did it in our place. And then He rose again on the third day! He is alive! And reigning, right now!

“What!?” Oh Dad, I thought, “How can this be, why would God do this for me?” He didn’t do it because I had something special in me. The only reason why I wasn’t as bad as I could be was because of his grace. I didn’t even want to know God before I became a Christian. In my heart I was disappointed every time you would talk about God or the Bible. I only wanted to be a Christian because I wanted a perfect, care free, pain free life in heaven or on earth. 
I didn’t want to be with Jesus, I didn’t love him. I loved myself and I was good with it. But God changed my heart!! A heart of hate and evil. Jesus made me his. It was a gift! I can boast in nothing but the cross.
When we were going through that in our Bible studies God opened my eyes to see Him fuller. To really want to rejoice and praise Him in a new way, more than before. I got a taste of heaven, being with Jesus our Savior every day, and totally undeserving of it. I wanted to go out to the nations to share this good news. So others might come to Christ and know the joy of being His. Knowing who He is. 

Thank you so much Dad for teaching us who Jesus is, and training us to be more like Jesus. I thank God that he made you my Dad. I remember as soon as we three younger girls could speak you had us start memorizing Bible verses. You were so patient with me. I remember that first day you took me on that special breakfast, you were teaching me what being “Born again means”. And you asked, “Does that mean we go back into our mothers stomach and then be born again?” Hehehe! I was so confused. Being born again is God changing our hearts and now we have a new life. Different from our life of sin and hate, but a life that is new in Christ. One of my favorite studies was in Jude when you were teaching us about “Justification” and “Sanctification”. When God gives us a new life he’s justifying us, (counting us righteous) then he sanctifies us, (is at work in our hearts to make us more and more like himself everyday). Thank you Dad for teaching me right out of the Bible so that I could hear the Gospel just the way Jesus tells us.

I love you so much Mom and Dad. God used you greatly in my life.  And what happened on 39th St. was my fault. I wish it never had to happen that way. But God’s in control of everything, even the bad things that happen. And God will use it for good. Rejoice! Rejoice that we have a God who cares for the helpless. Like me. 

Please, when my family, friends, niece’s, nephew’s, strangers ask about me or what I was like; tell them how ugly and corrupt my heart was. How God changed it. And how I couldn’t be perfect until I got to heaven and God gives me a new body. That Jesus counted me perfect when He changed my heart, so that I can be with Him in heaven. Show them the sin that was still in me, that I could still mess up, like on 39th St., but that God was at work in my heart and making me more like Him every day. Show them how messed up my heart was so that they can see what a great God we serve to save such a wretch like me.

Set your eyes on things above and not on things below.

See you soon.

In Christ,

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