I am afraid to die.
Anyone else in my boat?
I know it’s not the correct thing for a growing Christian to admit. We have a wonderful Savior, the promise of a glorious future, a home in heaven with our Creator for eternity, what could there be to fear? But I am. Fearful, that is.
You see, my life story includes experiencing death first hand as a child. On Valentine’s night 1972, 11-year-old me sat at our kitchen table with Daddy, Mama, and my little brother. We were making Valentines for each other. It is a sweet memory. Three days later, after being admitted to the hospital for some pain, my dad suddenly passed away from a massive heart attack… He was there… Then he was gone.
I don’t understand the psychology of what that does to a child’s mind, but I do understand the ramifications of how those experiences are lived out as a child growing into adulthood. One of the results in me was a feeling of abandonment by my father. Loss so great that I had a physical feeling inside my chest of emptiness. From that time on I have grieved and feared and dreaded any and all death: family, friends, pets, relatives of friends (people that I don’t even know). Death impacts me deeply. It may do this to many people. I don’t know.
I don’t fear death because I don’t have faith of heaven to come or salvation. I fear death because I don’t want to experience that loss again. And I don’t want anyone I know to have to experience that feeling. I sometimes cry to think of what my family will feel like when I pass away; I cry for them and their loss and emptiness.
Recently I found myself in one of those normal stressful times of life where it seemed that each of my four children had something serious occurring in their life at that moment. None of their situations had anything to do with death or illness. Yet, through that time I found myself waking up in the middle of the night with anxious feelings of dread, feelings that stirred that fear of death within me and made me fretful for life.
Early one morning on my deck as I was doing my normal routine meeting with the Lord, I began to journal furiously. My watchword for this year has been surrender. It’s obvious I was not surrendering. I wrote that morning, “I must let go and turn my fears over God.”
That day Hebrews 2:14-15 came up in my Bible study. Now I’ve read the Bible through from cover to cover several times in my life, random years throughout my life and every year for the last 4 years, and I had never “seen” this verse before. Ever had that happen to you? It’s when something so relevant and so profound springs out from the Word of God in your reading and you are shocked how you could have ever missed it. Here’s what those verses say:
“He [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Jesus himself, by His death, not only saved me and broke the power of death that Satan has, but can free me from being enslaved to the fear of death!
The words overwhelmed me. My Father met me on my deck at that moment with a very specific word for my very specific situation. What hope! What relief! The Father had breathed these words into the author of Hebrews hundreds of years ago as he wrote the first manuscript. And today My Abba brought them to my attention the very moment I needed them!
That verse. That day. That sunny deck. My dark, fearful heart. All those things converged to cause the key to turn in the lock of my heart. The door inched open that day and a crack of light shone in. It has been almost 2 weeks now and my Father God is still holding my hand pulling me out of that dark place into growing freedom.
My childhood fear of loss may always shadow me as long as I walk this earth, but I have a Savior who died to set me free. Free from slavery to sin and free from slavery to my fear of death. Today I choose to walk in freedom, in hope. In the future, when fear rattles at my door and tries to shut me in and chain me up and enslave me, may I remember to claim my freedom from slavery and walk faithfully on.