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Learn how to die... and live

September 26, 2018
Bob Stone

I think we can be honest and admit we all live with fear. Fear.

Fear of poverty, lost relationships, hunger, abandonment, disease and death.

We all live with Fear. How we cope with said Fear depends on how you approach it. Do I let Fear control me or do I control my own Fear?

Personally, it’s been a long year coping with some underlying health issues. Issues which seem to be “residual leftovers” from a past bout with cancer. It’s something I’ve been avoiding. No let’s be honest, it’s a Fear I’ve buried in the back closet hoping it will “slink away” in it’s own sweet time!

That’s a reality we all live with. Pushing our Fears to the back of the closet, closing the door and hoping they “slink away”! But sadly, that rarely happens. Life becomes a type of ebb and flow leaving you wondering “Will this just keep getting worse?” Feeling lost and forgetting to look at life from a God perspective. Forgetting to rely on “The One” who always delivers us from our dire circumstances. It’s no wonder our God is a God of “Lost Causes”. He delivers me and you time and time again when we get lost and need to be found.

A story comes to mind...

When Professor Morrie Schwartz was dying from ALS disease, a former student named Mitch Albom, now a sports writer, returned every Tuesday to visit with his old professor. Albom wrote his best-selling book, Tuesday’s with Morrie, about the things he learned from his old professor in the weeks leading up to his death. On one of those visits, Morrie said, “Take any emotion - love for a woman, or grief for a loved one, or what I’m going through, fear and pain from a deadly illness. If you hold back on the emotions - if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them - you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails.

“But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say, “All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment.’” Morrie stopped and looked me over, perhaps to make sure I was getting this right. “I know you think this is just about dying,” he said, “but it’s like I keep telling you. When you learn how to die, you learn how to live”

In many ways, this idea of living like you were dying can become “cliche”.

Tim McGraw sang about it and Morgan and Jack acted it out in the Bucket List.

We look at such an idea and say “Yah, Yah, let’s live like we were dying! Right!!”.

But maybe we need to put our egos in check and really take the time to face our fears and “get ahold of them” like they’ve been “getting ahold of us”!

When you learn how to die.... You learn how to live. Don’t bury those fears in the closet but draw them out into the light. Get them out where you can clearly see and face em! Keeping in mind, the point of this action is to control them and not let them control you. When you come to the realization that even our worst fear death isn’t the end but the beginning.... you’re on your way to getting the upper hand. Jesus reminds us of just that time and time again. There’s a reason He is...

The Way, The Resurrection and The Life.

So take a hint from one who like you, just buries those ol’ problems in the closet and start again with a new perspective. A God perspective!

When I learn How To Die... I learn How To Live.

May the Lord of “Lost Causes” deliver you and yours into a brighter day where you can live each day like it’s the last and make the difference only you can make! From one who is living like he’s dying in the light of the Resurrection, may you also... find His peace!

Bob Stone is pastor of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Pocatello.

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