My Death Wish

"Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side." Psalm 23:4

My two best friends growing up were David and Kevin. We went to school together, played sports together, worked together, went to our proms together, got in trouble together, and were best men in each others weddings. The list could go on and on about all the stuff the three of us got into. But as life would have it, eventually we went our separate ways. The ministry can be a busy place and it doesn't leave much room for friendships outside of church. David pursued his dream of being a cop and ended up working with the Durham Police. Kevin has a gift as a salesman and worked his way up to a big job with CBS in Phoenix. Sadly it had been over two years since I last spoke with David and over a year since Kevin and I had any contact. That was until this past Wednesday night.

Kevin called just after nine pm. To say I was surprised to hear his voice was an understatement. My first reaction was that he must be calling to tell me he had finally found Mrs. Right and getting married again. After a minute of superficial "how you been doings", Kevin got to the point of his call. David had called him earlier that day to tell him that Linda, David's mom, had been diagnosed with cancer. The doctors had found 18 tumors on her brain and were not giving her much time for survival. He said David was devastated. I took down the hospital info and promised to check on them first thing yesterday morning.

As I drove to the hospital, I thought a lot about death. Linda was the first on my friends parents to go through something like this. I hadn't seen David in over two years and it had been at least three since I had seen his mom. What would I say? What could I say? Jars of Clay wrote a great song about death a few years ago. One of my favorite lines says this:

When death,
like a gypsy,
comes to steal what I love,
I will still
look to the heavens
I will still seek Your face.
But I fear
You aren't listening
because there are no words,
just the stillness,
and the hunger
for a faith that assures.

I started to wonder why did things have to die. Besides the obvious answer that the world would have over 100 gazillion people on it if we didn't. I wanted to know why God allowed death.

People die.
Dreams die.
Jobs die.
Relationships die.
Everything dies.

I'm not sure what I expected as I walked into that hospital room, but what I got was certainly not it. I found Linda and David's sister April hanging out chatting. Linda was in great spirits considering the circumstance. We all caught each other up on the events of the past three years and shared some good memories of the past when we were a lot closer. For a moment it felt as though no time had passed from the last time I saw them. When Linda asked if I had spoke with David in a while, I had to embarrassingly say it had been a long time. His sister offered to call him for me right then and there. As she dialed, I felt my heart race as I speculated of how I would be received. Would he be glad I came by or upset that it took his mom on her death bed to bring me back around. When his sister handed the phone to me and I said hello. There was this very brief moment of silence. Maybe he didn't catch my voice or maybe he had a second of shock of who he just heard from. Either way, our conversation took off as my fears of what our conversation would be like were calmed by David's obvious joy of me being there. We spoke briefly and exchanged numbers with the promise we'd get together within the next few days. We soon hung up and I said my goodbyes to Linda.

As I walked out of that hospital, I still was asking God what the deal with death was. Then it hit me. Or at least what needed to hit me. Death has to happen for new birth. Rebirth. I know it sounds overly simple but I've never really thought about it like this before. Death has a way of bringing people back together. Restoring relationships long given up for dead. But the beauty of death is without it, the newness of life would never come to be.

Through the death of a loved one, people can be brought back together.
Through the death of a dream, space is open for God to show you a new one.
Through the death of a job, we can stop seeking our wants and begin seeking God's.
Through the death of a relationship, we can move on to a more healthier one.

Nothing dies with out something new taking it's place. Leaves have to die and fall off now so that next spring God can repaint this world with blooms and greens. It may take a bit longer for the regrowth to happen then we'd like, but be still, it's coming.

Does death hurt? Absolutely. Does my heart break for David and his family? Without a doubt. Does death win? Not if I allow God to use this time for a rebirth. Death is not final. Death is not the end. Death does not have the last say. Unless we let it.

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