For the past several years I have been haunted by a strange fear. The strange thing about it is that this fear always grips me just as I’m waking up from a nap. In that short amount of time when I am waking up from sleep, starting to remember where I am but not really conscious enough to control my thoughts or actions, the truth hits me like a bucket of ice cold water: I am going to die. Someday, sooner or later, I am going to die. In that conscious moment before I fully wake up, I know that heaven is for real, but so is hell, and one day I will go to one or the other.
Now, there is another reason why this fear is strange for me. When I was a very little girl, not much older than Lydia really, I learned about heaven and hell. Afraid of going to hell when I died, I asked Jesus to save me from my sins and began in a childlike way to try to live for and please Jesus. My belief wasn’t perfect, but I do believe that even as a little girl with very little knowledge, God saved me and began to change me too.
Yet, for the past several years I’ve been haunted by this fear. It’s so intense, so very real and so very dreadful. But, what’s baffled me for so long is the question: why am I still afraid?
I have tried to respond to this fear appropriately. I’ve prayed and prayed, talked it over with Dan, and tested myself to see if I really am “in the faith” (1 Corinthians 13:5) only to conclude over and over again that, yes I am. I am led by the Spirit of God. I am becoming more like Him day by day. I am depending on Him as my hope for eternity. And yet, many days after my nap, I wake up with that terrible, sometimes nearly overwhelming fear. Why?
When Dan and I were first married, we read a book aloud together called Justification and Regeneration. It sounds old and boring, but it really isn’t. The author writes this paragraph that has always stuck in my mind:
Imagine two bridges crossing a chasm: One is very weak and untrustworthy, the other is very strong. A man may have a very strong faith in the weak bridge and confidently step out onto it. His strong faith will not keep him from plunging to his death. On the other hand, a man may have a very weak faith in the strong bridge and only barely manage with fear and trembling to venture forth upon it. The bridge will hold him securely, regardless of his weak faith. All that is necessary is for him to have enough faith to get him onto the bridge!
I love that quote. It has stuck with me for so long, because I feel like that man. I am the fearful man slowly crawling on all fours across that bridge, though I don’t need to be fearful at all because the bridge is very strong. For a long time I thought that maybe this was why I was still afraid of death in a way that seemed to be completely out of my control.
Several weeks ago I had another one of my episodes, waking up after a nap terrified of death. I was able to get up, move on, and forget for a while. But that night as I lay in bed I prayed through everything all over again and I suddenly was given a different reason for my reoccuring fear. I cannot keep this to myself.
There is a connection between my haunting fear and God’s command for me to share His truth. I realize this blog post is anything from a lighthearted story or page full of cute pictures of my little Munchkins. I realize, though sadly, that there are some who normally read my blog who won’t even make it this far because this is not what they want to read about today…or ever. The shy, people-pleasing part of me wants to preface this post: Please don’t get angry! Please, oh please, don’t leave nasty comments or stop talking to me because of this. I really don’t even want to write about something so heavy. But love and fear and Truth compel me to share this, even though in many ways, I’d rather keep it to myself.
I will die someday. You will too. And suddenly in that moment when your life is over you will be hit with the terrible and awesome reality that you will have to stand before an Almighty God and answer for your sins. Just think about it for a while. Just sit and think about that moment when it’s too late to change your mind, when your philosophizing will mean nothing, and you will stand before God and you will have to answer for your life. Does it scare you? Or are you ready?
The only way you can be ready at all is to trust in Jesus, that Strong Bridge, to be your goodness and your hope for salvation. No other bridge will hold your weight no matter how confidently or carelessly, or even politically correct..ly…you walk across it.
And, friend, if you do believe in Jesus, I challenge you as I have been challenged many times before and now in this new way, are you telling others? It is not ok to coast through this life trusting in Jesus for yourself, posting happy pictures of your cute little family and keeping to your own happy routine within your own four walls. It is not ok for me to coast through my happy life posting pictures of my Munchkins and just keeping to myself and my own little family.
I realize that God won’t let me keep it to myself. Even if that means waking me up from my naps terrified of the reality of my coming death and judgement, God won’t let me keep Him to myself.
Now I’m coming to the end of this post, one I have honestly been avoiding for quite a while, and I feel like my words just can’t express the earnestness of my desire to share this in a way that will get through to you. In love and sincerity and urgency I ask you to take some time today to think about this brief life and your position before God. Think about eternity and imagine how real it will all be, how real, in fact, it is. And ask yourself and ask God if you are really ready. And if you are, ask yourself if you will be ready on that day to see the ones you love most, and even the ones you hardly know at all. Will you be ready for some of them not to be ready, knowing that at least you did your part in sharing with them that great and wonderful good news that there is hope for a happy eternity only in Jesus Christ.
“The bridge of grace will bear your weight, brother. Thousands of big sinners have gone across that bridge, yea, tens of thousands have gone over it. Some have been the chief of sinners and some have come at the very last of their days but the arch has never yielded beneath their weight. I will go with them trusting to the same support. It will bear me over as it has for them.”