Kara’s Collection: 5 Thoughts on Dying Well

from an article originally posted August 29, 2014…

This is not a topic many of us wish to think on with any regularity. But honestly, I think of it all the time. How does one die well? How does one glorify God in death? How does one simply die well? All thoughts that pass through my moments, my limited moments.

Here is what I have come up with: I’m sure as days pass I will have a new list of thoughts to share with you lovely readers. But today, this low drug filled day, here are my thoughts.

1. Live with deep forgiveness to share and honest repentance with those you love. Keep short accounts and don’t find offenses that aren’t there. Live in love. Enjoy grace. Extend that forgiveness, grace and love. For years, I have shared with my children the story of my elementary school years. I share often about a young boy in my class named Steven. I don’t know the story Steven lived, but it didn’t look like an easy story or simple upbringing. I don’t remember specifics of my behavior towards Steven, but I remember a heart of unkindness I carried towards him. I offered him no friendship, no gentleness, no real kindness. I grieve how I treated this young man. I have often shared my sadness that I didn’t know Jesus at a young age to extend him love he most certainly longed for—love we all long for daily. And wonder of wonders—this dying, this cancer, this hard caused me to find Steven. Too search him out and ask his forgiveness for my unkindness. He gently extended mercy. He forgave my ugly. He offered me kindness I did not deserve. It’s beautiful really how death can bring life, restoration, redemption. It should not have taken dying to find this man I was unkind to... But it did.

2. When the limit of the horizon of my days feels like it’s closing in, I feel compelled to live what I have well. Sure I still fail, spend unintentional moments each day, I know lazy still. But my days are spent looking deeply into the eyes of my loves, trying to let my people see the love I have for them beyond these endless words I write. There is something in a look, a look full of love. I stare, I smile, I tangle my fingers with my children and my love and fight to remember to laugh. We meet the wonder of each other in small moments, and those small moments have become the giant moments of each day. They always were, but dying has taught us to embrace and enjoy the simple moments. To cherish each moment as the gift that it is.

3. The learning and leaning on God I did before I was sick matters today. When the limitations of my disease come, often in a struggle to read, I think on a feast on the moments of learning, discipleship, and scripture I have memorized before this sickness hit me. The time spent drinking deeply from that season of health was time well spent. Energy worth my time. Efforts that have kept me, reminded me of goodness and grace in the struggle today. The time spent nurturing my heart in the season of health was important. Don’t neglect your heart and faith in your season of health.

4. Dying has taught me not to squander a moment. I do not fear directing a question right to the heart of another. I have little time left for small talk. So I don’t waste my words with it often. I long to hear and know the real story, the story of the heart in another. Flattery and small talk are lost on me these days. I want to hear, really hear from the heart of another as I have energy to hear. The real story, not the pretended together story. I love hearing how Jesus uniquely meets the brokenness of another.

5. Today matters, this breath, this moment to write. It matters. When I was well, I squandered moments thinking I had endless days to capture life. But none of us do. So why do we live in the comfortable confines of our lives? Why don’t we extend ourselves in love to the hurting community around us? God has lavished, lavished, lavished his extending dying love on us in Christ; why don’t we extend ourselves to our hurting neighbors? I regret the comfort I kept myself isolated for so many years. A few weeks ago a new young woman came to our church. I simply met her and told her about Jesus. I didn’t know if I would get another chance. I came home and told Jason I was able to share Jesus with a young woman. He said he did too. We shared the name. Yup—we both told this young woman about the love of Jesus. You see, we know something of the limit of our days with cancer. We know these moments matter. So if I meet you, I’m telling you the greatest story that was ever lived. And it happened. Jesus really did live a breathtaking life extending, extending, extending himself in love. For you. And that story is really the only story that matters. His life, death, and resurrection—overcoming death to prove himself God—it happened, it matters. It matters today. So with these last breaths I’m given. That’s how I’m going to spend them. Telling my kids, my loves, my neighbors, my friends. Those that know Jesus, and those that don’t. His love has made all the difference in my dying. He died well. He lived well. He is enough. And if He calls me to Himself sooner than I had hoped? Well, it is for my gain.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
— Philippians 1:21

I believe that my death will be gain. I don’t long for it, and I do pray for longer days with my loves. Days blissfully extending myself in all the love I’m given to give. I get to be nourished by the love my community is extending to me, and the grace that is provided for each moment. I know, I know, I know dying will not be easy. I know the journey across the veil from this place into the next will not be a simple lovely journey. But it will be my journey. And I am in Christ, and Jason and I often wonder over the in-Christness that we enjoy. That moving from this life into the next will not change that. I will be connected to Jesus as I walk through that veil into the land of no more tears. Where are you today friend? Do you know what it is to be in Christ? To know that heaven is secure. Ask me! Like I said, it’s the story I love to tell. How Jesus took me, young and wretched, full of bitterness and ugly, and made me his daughter. His beloved daughter. Forever in this life and the next. Do you see me dancing? I’m dancing and rejoicing in that truth here, and I will be dancing and rejoicing in Him there. Won’t you join me?