It is appointed unto man a birth date and an end date. There is the day of our entrance. There is the day of our departing. And then there are the days that fill the in between. How do we live them? How do we bear them in light of what is to come? There is truth, but then there are all the answers we’ve concocted.
There are those who celebrate their entrances into the world, and every anniversary thereafter, vigorously; then there are those who celebrate the start, but lament the passing of time-for them every life is a hope that grows dim, before being extinguished. And then there are those so greatly possessed by fear that they hold fast to everything-they are never in season. And still, there are those who clutter the days with so much they never have a moment to ponder their necessary exits, nor what it implies for the in between. And then there are those who hold time graciously, knowing that their beginnings and endings do not belong to them-someone else has numbered their days. They enter time’s march alert and yet joyously-conceding to the author of their lives the right to direct and care for them in the in between.
This weekend, my family gathered for devotions. We are walking through a 5 week study of Jesus’ journey to Calvary as depicted in the gospel of Matthew. And for the first time I wondered to myself: How did He do it? How did He walk the earth healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, multiplying lunches, resurrecting the dead -loving so perfectly-when He knew what lay before Him? How did He do it, knowing that those He had fashioned in the womb would taunt Him and then petition for His death? How did He do it?
The apostle Peter helps us understand when He writes: “He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth; when he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.” (1 Peter 22 - 23, CSB). He entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. And He did not begin doing so on Calvary’s slope. No, instead this was His way of living. This was the secret to His thriving in the face of a call to die. He lived with every iota of time completely surrendered to God the Father: the Father in whom there is joy, peace and all that eternally delights the soul.
In the Father’s presence He dwelt and that is why He was able to live fully-even with Calvary ahead. And He was confident in the Father’s goodness. He knew He would judge justly. And so when He stretched His arms wide on the cross His final anticipation was not death, but the life to come. On the third day He got up. God raised Him up.
For some of us, an account of Jesus’ strategy for victory in the face of death is not easily received as encouragement. We wonder how we can enter into such bliss with the Father. We wonder how we can have such confident assurance, when we know it cannot be said of us that we did not commit sin and in our mouths was found no deceit. When we consider the Father, who is the righteous judge, the air leaves our lungs. We can only hope for death. And in such empty hope, we vigorously celebrate the start, lament the passing of time, live past season, and or escape into clutter.
But, if only we would lean into what Peter continues to say, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24, CSB). In other words, the death He was born to die was on our account. Jesus died for our sins. He died for them, so that we might have a chance to live righteously now and forevermore. His death is the all sufficient payment for the wrath we rightly fear when we behold the holy splendor of God. His resurrection is the proof.
We can face death, and all the moments in between, when we rely on the work of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross because we know it is safe to entrust ourselves to the righteous judge. We identify with the death Jesus died, knowing that He without sin died for our sins. We live joyously in the in between, knowing that our sins are forgiven and that we are eternally right with God. We live joyous lives of holiness in the in between, with the help the Holy Spirit provides. And when death approaches we cling to the hope that, like our Savior, we will be raised up to eternal life.
Be blessed as Casey J brings the truth to you in song. Listen, sing and be glad:
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Carolyn Sinclair McCalla is a daughter of God who believes that as we seek the truth of God's Word, and humble ourselves to live in agreement with it, that we will experience the transformation which allows us to enter wholistic wellness: spirit, soul and body. She is the Founder and President of EarthBasic and leads its Be-Held Community: a group of women seeking, living and being transformed by the truth of God’s Word together. She is thrilled at the call to extend the Be-Held Community to include Be-Held Peace of Mind: a monthly publication providing Christ-centered mental health resources that raise awareness about mental health issues, end stigma around mental illness and point persons to hope in Jesus Christ.