Okay, a disclaimer seems in order here.
I realize that I am taking a risk here in posting two posts about death so close together, but I shall take the risk. Constant thoughts of death is not the usual case for me...
However, today I spent 3 hours playing flute for a wake, 1 hour sitting thorough the funeral mass and burial, then 3 hours at the reception at the home of the family. Needless to say, after 7 hours, I was a bit out of sorts.
After we dropped my sister off at church to practice music for Sunday, my frustrations and strange thoughts all came flowing forth. I was feeling a strange sense of questioning.
The thought that kept coming to my mind was "Why?" Mind you, it was not, "why did such a good man have to die?", I had never even met him (we knew his son). My questions were more in a general sense "Why are we here?" "What is the point? You are born, you live, you die, then you are in eternity. Why this earth?" Not to question God and his sovereign plan, not at all...but I want to understand our real purpose on this earth.
I kept thinking, "God put us on this earth for a reason, and people in general are missing the point of life by a longshot."
I really think that most people, including myself, have a very distorted perspective on life. Why are we here? The only reason I could come up with was "To glorify God."
The posts about simplicity on my friend's blog, along with my own personal Bible reading and thinking, and knowing several people recently who have died or come close to it, has really started to change my perspective on life.
I have had a rather eventful life, and am thankful to God for every season, every fiery trial, and every mountain top. Thorough them all, I have learned many lessons.For the first 6 years of my life, life on this planet was nothing special, whatever it is that little kids did, I did. No purpose, no mission, just living because I was here (I mean, how much mission do most 5 year olds have, but the point still stands...)
From my 6th through 12th years, my life was merely on survival mode, the "miry waters" years, as the Psalmist would say. Get up, read bible, eat, sleep, keep breathing, keep breathing, keep breathing. Just take it one day at a time, one day at a time... Some purpose, some mission, but mostly just getting through life and trying to rely on God.
Since then, my life has been a mixture of mountain tops and valleys. Relatively "normal" I would say. But I am finding that I am longer satisfied with being an average Joe-Blo Christian. For the last several years, but mostly within the past 2 or so, I have thought "There must be more to life than this. God didn't put me on this planet to be just like everybody else. But what do I do from here? Move to a village in Africa? Something big, I want to impact people!" Then I thought of my grandmother, who passed away less than a year ago. She was very likely the most wonderful, godly woman I have ever known. I found myself asking "What did she do, what was the key to her successful, inspiring life?" The answer came to my mind quickly. She loved her neighbor as herself. She radiated God's love, grace, and hope. She never passed out tracts, she never knocked on peoples doors and said "let me tell you about Jesus", she never told me, in verbal words, the gospel message. But it was told in her life. By her behavior, she shared Christ's love with everyone she met. Not that I should never witness with words, that is not my point, but for to witness with my life...that is much harder!
There is a wonderful quote by St. Francis of Assisi that I absolutely love: "Preach Christ. Use words if necessary." That is my ambition, to, by every word I say (or perhaps more aptly, by every word I refrain from saying), by every action, every response, every....everything!, I would proclaim Christ. That is where the rubber meets the road for me. It's easy to tell someone "You need Jesus, let me tell you the plan of salvation". What is hard is to live my life in such a way that, without even a word, I am witness for Christ. It's so much easier for me to be hypocritical and say "You need Christ in your life", then go home and get irritated at my sister over something minor, slam my cousin because I think she's doing something wrong, gossip about this person or that person, waste time being idle and skip Bible reading. Being a living witness is not easy. I fail more often than I succeed, but I am determined that before my life is over, I will have made a difference. Not (necessarily) because I have gone oversees and converted thousands, not because I have translated the Bible into a language that no one has ever even heard of, but because "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives within me."
My goal is to - every day of my life - die to myself, take up my cross and follow Jesus.