I’ve heard people say, “I’m not afraid of death because I’m confident that I’m going to heaven; it’s the dying process that scares me!” Yes, as Christians, we look forward to heaven but may be afraid of dying. We need not be ashamed to admit that. It is natural to be afraid of the pain that comes with dying, of being separated from our loved ones, of possibly impoverishing our families, and of regret over missed earthly opportunities.
Because of his arthritis, Roger could no longer handle the winters of Illinois, so he moved to tropical Bangkok, Thailand. One day he remembered his grandmother’s favorite song, “What You Are”: What you are speaks so loud that the world can’t hear what you say; they’re looking at your walk, not listening to your talk; they’re judging from your actions every day.
At a cultural show in Bandung, Indonesia, we enjoyed a wonderful orchestra performance. Before the finale, the 200 people in the audience were each handed an angklung, a musical instrument made of bamboo. We were taught how to shake it in rhythm with the conductor’s timing. Soon we thought we were performing like an orchestra; we felt so proud of how well we were doing! Then it dawned on me that we were not the ones who were good; it was the conductor who deserved the credit.
When I was a child, someone close to me thought they could motivate me to do better by frequently asking me, “Why are you so stupid?” I didn’t know how much this had affected me until I was a teenager and heard someone behind me say, “Stupid!” At the word, I quickly turned around, thinking he was talking to me.
If money were missing mysteriously from your wallet, you would be angry. But if you discovered that your child was the one who stole it, your anger would quickly turn into grief. One use of the word grief is to describe the sorrow we feel when those we love disappoint us.
Conventional wisdom questions how much can be accomplished with little. We tend to believe that a lot more can be done if we have large financial resources, talented manpower, and innovative ideas. But these things don’t matter to God. Consider just a couple of examples:
The Ironman Triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run. It is not an easy feat for anyone to accomplish. But Dick Hoyt participated in the race and completed it with his physically disabled son Rick. When Dick swam, he pulled Rick in a small boat. When Dick cycled, Rick was in a seat-pod on the bike. When Dick ran, he pushed Rick along in a wheelchair. Rick was dependent on his dad in order to finish the race. He couldn’t do it without him.
A mother asked her 5-year-old son to go to the pantry to get her a can of tomato soup. But he refused and protested, “It’s dark in there.” Mom assured Johnny, “It’s okay. Don’t be afraid. Jesus is in there.” So Johnny opened the door slowly and seeing that it was dark, shouted, “Jesus, can you hand me a can of tomato soup?”