Never fear dying, beloved. Dying is the last, but the least matter that a Christian has to be anxious about. Fear living—that is a hard battle to fight, a stern discipline to endure, a rough voyage to undergo.
I was blessed to have a career working with women in the direct-selling industry for many years. On occasion, these girlfriend gatherings involved getaways that required me to charter a motor coach where 55 of us would pack in and head east for a grand adventure. Those trips always involved taking in some gift shops and boutiques along the way.
On one of those shop stops, I saw a greeting card that read, “Slap on a Little Lipstick . . . You’ll Be Fine.” At first glance, I laughed, but the laughter was quickly followed by a bout of cynicism. Oh, if only it were so simple. If lipstick could cure a broken heart and take away sadness, I would do more than slap on a little bit. I would search for a fountain of it and hire a driver to get to it. Upon arrival, I would stand under it and be covered in it! Full immersion. Total cure.
Occasional sadness is a natural part of life, but suffering long periods of it, leading to chronic hopelessness and despair, is not normal. Statistics tell us that 15 percent of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lifetime, and the average age of onset is in the early 30s. I was in kindergarten when the signs of depression began to appear. I don’t remember not struggling with it. The desperation of it caused me to attempt ending my life via a drug overdose as a teenager. Fighting thoughts of it followed me into my college days and adult life.
As I'm writing this, today marks a very special anniversary for me. On this day, in 2008, I got a second chance at life when the brain aneurysm I'd suffered nine weeks earlier was repaired at the Mayo Clinic.
Before being whisked away for surgery on that dark and blustery winter morning, I asked my sister if she would pick me up a powder compact. I found out later that it was a great delight to her and my son, whom she recruited to run the errand with her. It told them that I was planning on making it through the surgery.
There are many possible outcomes of a surgery like the one I underwent. Suffering a stroke, or dying, were both within the realm of possibility.
But I didn’t have an ounce of fear of dying. I had never felt so close to the Lord. The stainless steel surgery suite was quite cool, and the remedy was to be snuggled under a stack of cozy warm, white blankets. As I quietly laid there, waiting and praying, I wondered if I would be waking up there or in heaven. Dreaming about the possibility of it, really. Secretly wishing for it.
The hard battle of living seemed long. It took me a few years to confess to people who walked those surgery ward halls, praying I'd live, that I had been so desperately longing for heaven. Waking up was bittersweet. I still long desperately for heaven, but living has been so much more beautiful after waking up from surgery.
God, in His great mercy, gave me a new desire to be well ... body, mind, and spirit. I saw the great error, the lies that I'd believed. Healing wasn’t instant, but He has been faithful every step of the way to bring it to pass. Surrendering completely to Him as the Captain of the rough voyage of life has made all of the difference.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.