Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Scared To Death



For most of my life I wasn’t afraid to die. When I was a student through middle school, high school and college, I actively didn’t fear death. I feared not. I did things that were stupid, adventurous and downright awesome. 

I suppose I felt I was invincible. I knew I was mortal. However, I was young, healthy and strong…for a teenage stick-boy. I had this feeling that the only thing that could kill me would be a homicidal maniac or a freak accident, and those usually happen quickly. 
In addition, I had this intense sense of assurance in the afterlife. I became a Christian when I was 14 or 15, but even before then, I had been raised in a spiritual home and I was taught that good people go to heaven. Despite this theological falsehood, I felt I knew God even before I had accepted the gospel. Perhaps this was actually the beginnings of his drawing me to himself…but I digress.  I distinctly remember having a conversation with my best friend about death and whether or not we were scared. I told him that I wasn’t afraid, because I knew I’d go to Heaven when I died. 
A few years ago, doctors found a tumor the size of a baseball in that friend’s head…
Mortality has come a bit closer to home. 
When I was 25 I went on a trip to China which had the potential to be dangerous. I was there for nearly 3 months, and it was epic, awesome, but the closest we came to any real danger was a few questions from curious policemen. (and I guess we did sort of get arrested, but that’s another story). In the span of about 3 weeks, just before and in the beginning of the trip, I had 3 unexplainable panic attacks. I was just seriously afraid: of dying, of getting injured, of being arrested…it was all very strange. At the time, I saw it as evidence that I wasn’t trusting the Lord with my life and therefore, an opportunity to grow in faith. 
I turn 31 in a couple of months, and while I know that I am still in the (sub)prime of my life, I am beginning to feel age taking effect on my body. I don’t digest food as well as I used to (red peppers and garlic give me serious indigestion). I can’t stay awake late into the night and still expect to be able to function well the next day. My body gets sore in certain kinds of weather. “I can feel it in mah bones!” 
Most of these things are solvable with a healthier diet and more exercise, I know.  
My health and strength just isn’t something that comes naturally, anymore.  I have to work for it. 
And recently, I’ve found myself afraid to die. 
There it is. I said it. 
I do believe that “for me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” And I want to live that way.
I am confident in Christ, and as sure of my destination in the afterlife as I was when I was 13 (only this time, I have a reason to be sure).
However, I’m still afraid. 
I started noticing the fear a few months ago, when I was scheduled to go to a friend’s wedding in Canada. We couldn’t justify buying two tickets for such a short trip (I pulled a red-eye weekend), so I went alone and my wife stayed home. 
I very seriously considered backing out. I know that the chances of dying in a plane crash are less than those of being eaten by a shark-lion hybrid or something, but this wasn’t just some statistical flight. This was me leaving my beloved behind, in Korea…had I died, she would have been alone.  
In actuality, she wouldn’t have been alone.  We have a very supportive church, a wonderful group of friends and what’s more, “Surely, I will be with you always…”
We have our Lord. 
But, again, there it is.  There’s the difference. 
When I was younger, I had less to leave behind. Now, I have more to lose…more to leave. 
And it scares me to death.



***UPDATE: I originally posted this less than one month before I got sick. It's quite interesting reading it, looking back. It's also poignant on a day an iconic celebrity, like Steve Jobs or Michael Jackson dies. I'm not sure that I feel the same way, now, that I did then. God is continually working on my heart, but I still think it's important to remember, and be honest with these things. I am healing, for now. One day, though, I'll die. Today, I'm ok with this. I'm secure in my savior's love.

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