I’m Not Scared To Die Anymore
The gate creaks open, and I step into a place that holds the dead.
I walk along rows of stones, past a fresh hump of dirt and fading flowers in a tipped-over vase. I see names I recognize, but most are strangers. The first ones were buried here in 1870.
I try to remember her soprano voice, his belly-laughter and their church-potluck specialties. Their faces have dimmed with the ages.
And then I consider this life inside this body– this life that began on February 2, 1972.
When faced on all sides by mortality, aren’t we prone to then consider our own? Here, among the graves, I wonder: Where might they bury me? Maybe over there in the corner? I’d have a “view” of the acres he farmed all those years and the house we built and the flowers I grew and the trees we planted.
It’s just a short walk, really, from here to there — from this place where the bodies go, to my life-pulsing home, which I see just over the curve of the Earth. Just a short walk.
And isn’t that life, too? Just a short walk, really. We are mists that appear for a little while, then vanish.
I know it sounds morbid, but as I write this, I consider that I might die tomorrow. I might die before I hit Publish Post on this blog entry.
That’s a staggering thought, but it’s reality. A friend of a friend — a 51-year-old mother — died two nights ago in a car accident on Highway 75 in northwest Iowa. Someone else crossed the center line. A little over a year ago, I collided head-on with a car that crossed the center line on that same road.
My earthly life was spared. Hers wasn’t.
There are no guarantees. I might die today.
But do we live our lives really believing it?
I used to live life afraid of dying. I was scared to death of dying. Now, if I’m scared of anything, it’s that I will not do the things He set out for me to do. Not that my salvation depends on my good works, but I don’t want to waste this life I’ve been given chasing shadows.
In 100 years — likely fewer — no one left on this planet will remember me. Should they walk through this old cemetery, I’ll be little more than a name to anyone. In fact, this old cemetery may well be covered in weeds and decay. My stone may be toppled over — like the one I set back in its place as I walked the rows.
No one will know what clothes I wore, what newspapers I worked for, what awards I hung on my wall. No one on Earth will know me at all. But the One who made me will know me. Yes, He will.
For I am living unapologetically for Christ.
I once had a friend who questioned why I would give my life to Jesus. She left this question in the comment box: “What was so bad about life as-is that you needed to give it all away?”
And I answered her question this way:
“Some people arrive at Faith in Jesus after hitting rock-bottom. …
Others come to faith because they’ve been hurt so badly, and they go searching for some meaning in the middle of the chaos.
For me, faith came more quietly. As an adult, I had to decide: What am I going to do with the Jesus I grew up with? What did I really believe? Jesus is either the Son or God or he isn’t. He either died on the cross, or he didn’t. He either rose on the third day, or he didn’t. How was I going to respond?
I began to ponder the big questions in life: Is there really a God? What happens when I die? Is there a purpose for my life? Do I matter? What on Earth am I here for?”
The simple fact is this: In 100 years, nothing will matter more than the fact that I knew God and wanted to be a world-changer for Him. Nothing will matter more than the fact that I planted these seeds in my children, who will — by the grace of God — plant them in their children, who will plant them in their children.
Nothing will matter more than the fact that when my body lay cold and still, I lived life in the reality of who I was before God.
I could die any day. I believe it enough that it is changing how I live every day.
Photo: Computer-generated tombstone. These days are numbered. I’m living life with that in mind.
Each Wednesday, I join Ann Voskamp as we “Walk With Him.” This week, we consider how we’re Cultivating a Life that God Desires.
“He determined the exact times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” — Acts 17:26
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Oh Jennifer, this is really something. It is profound and full of love, really it is. And I have been in a similar place as last Friday night I heard of a woman killed earlier that morning, also on the road and near the same spot where my husband careened off two months earlier.
Oh, I know where I would be if that happened to me, but I ached so for my boys. In fact, I fell asleep in my son's bed as I curled in close for a full-body "good night" hug, as I wondered and prayed.
If we shine His light as bright as we can, don't you think there will be a glowing, a glimmer, or even a flicker of it here in one hundred years? In our kids as adults. In seeds that sprouted and grew. Perhaps in people we never even knew.
Friend, you and I are the same age, only I am older by 20-some days. Let us join hands as we continue to let Him change us each and every day.
Excellent. Not only are you planting seeds in your kids, but you're planting seeds in everyone who reads these posts. Keep living unapologetically for Jesus! Thanks Jennifer.
"…..than the fact that I knew God and wanted to be a world-changer for Him"
world-changer….I like that!
Like you…I am trying to devote my life to planting seeds with my children and anyone else who will let me share His Good News with them. Josh and I just took a huge leap of faith in this economy (I posted the story yesterday) and we are praying that God's will be done with us.
I for one…..now this might sound morbid….am actually excited to meet Jesus! Of course I want to stay here on earth with my family and friends and follow His Plan for my life, but the thought of meeting Jesus face to face brings me such JOY!
Jennifer, this is a powerful post! I pray that the Lord will bring all the right people to it today that need to dwell on these thoughts. Including me.
No, not afraid.
Thanks for the reminder why not.
Oh Jennifer, this is really powerful.
Powerful friend … I too am no longer afraid to die, knowing that to die is to gain! And that I will NEVER be alone.
Living each day in His glory,
Wow, Jennifer…this is an awesome post! I have a feeling this post will truly make a difference in someone's life! Not only are you planting those seeds into your children, you are planting seeds into the lives of all who read your blog. What an opportunity…and what a blessing!
To be so in love and fellowship with God that we don't have to be afraid. Only that we can look forward to being with Him for all eternity.
Thank you for this, Jennifer.
Oh, Honey! You are so right! So right! We are still stunned over the death of our daughter two years ago. One day she was there…the next day, not.
I hit a point of near-meltdown this morning over things going on around us. I told my husband that I just have to turn the news off for a while. I can't cope with all this. I fell face down before God's throne and prayed fervently before him. Even one of the cats came to me and laid down beside me as I lay there prostrate before God. When I had finished, I put Chris Tomlin CD's in the player and turned up the volume and sang and wept and rejoiced that God is still on His throne. He is Lord of All!
And then I realized I had allowed myself to venture into a future fear and didn't take God with me there. That's when they look darkest…when He's not there…and when we do that, we've never taken Him with us to those places. We go out there alone, and it gets to us.
And what came out of all of this is that we have to keep ourselves here…in this moment…where Christ meets us and walks with us. We need to focus on doing HIS business, and He will take care of ours!
I feel as though I have been around the world emotionally today, but I'm right back here in this moment that I have…this moment where Christ is…this moment that is real.
"Unapologetically, I want to leave a legacy."
Beautiful…I could have responded the way that you did to the question posed to you…We lost a dear friend 6 years ago to a head on collision and another young mom to cancer and it became reality…at any time He could call us home. My heart echoes these words so eloquently penned by you…
"I used to live life afraid of dying. I was scared to death of dying. Now, if I'm scared of anything, it's that I will not do the things He set out for me to do. Not that my salvation depends on my good works, but I don't want to waste this life I've been given chasing shadows."
One life. One gift. One unapologetic life…I'd be fine if that's what they write someday…Here lies Lori, one relentless, unapologetic servant of the Lord…yep, I'd like that…
A simple human truth profoundly stated. Amen sister. Amen.
Jennifer, it is sobering to think how short our lives truly are. Here I am at 64 years of age and I wonder how many years do I have left. I don't want to waste them. There are so many that never get the opportunity to live as long as I have. They had plans, hopes and dreams. But the most important thing is, did they know Jesus? That is what is uppermost on my mind. What am I doing with Christ, because that is truly what is most important.
Dying is a scary thought, but I definately am so excited to see Heaven and my Heavenly Father.
I am sure once we are in Heaven we won't miss Earth, but I just want to make sure I spend each moment here with the ones I love.
Lovely post. I feel the same way – I just do not want to miss my purpose here. I pray that it is not possible to miss it when we want to desperately to find it. I'm learning more and more that there is nothing else that matters more!
Found you via Holy Experience. Thanks for sharing!
Reading this has changed my day… and my life.
I loved reading this, Jennifer. If only everyone could be released from the sting of death in our Lord Jesus Christ.
You brother in Christ,