Psalm 39:4 NRSV
Lord, let me know my end,
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
Last night, I had what my grandmother might have called a heart spell. My heart began to raise and skip beats. It made a funny feeling in my chest, raised both my pulse and my blood pressure, and was, to be honest, rather disconcerting. Of course, the on-call nurse for my doctor wanted me to drive more than an hour to the insurance plan emergency room (which we didn’t do). I simply wanted it to go away so I could go to sleep.
In the darkness, waiting for sleep to come, for the first time really feeling my heart beating inside my chest (and beating somewhat irregularly), I realized how fragile life is, how little control we actually have. As much as I wanted to will it – to take control over my recalcitrant body – I could not. My heart would continue beating – or would stop – as the LORD willed, not as I willed. I had a great sense of how helpless we really are, how dependent we are upon the Lord.
The psalmist writes:
This God–His way is perfect;
the promise of the Lord proves true;
He is a shield for all
who take refuge in Him Psalm 18:30 NRSV.
Our ultimate enemy is death. It is the true unknown because it is the wrenching from this world to the next. We don’t travel alone, but we do travel in faith for the hand of the Savior, which will guide us, is a hand we have seen to actually see or touch. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 NRSV. The conviction of things not seen. When we have faith, we reach out past what we can see or hear or smell or even prove to the perfect character of God. And in that, we put our trust.
Recently, my husband and I took two days to visit the Disney Resort in Southern California. Disney is known world-wide for creating illusions that seem real. We visited on one of the attractions called “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” (based on the popular movie series of similar names). This attraction was a 3-D movie theater . . . and much more. Disney added physical effects (the room rocked, air shot out around your legs like mice running, water droplets were shot out of the chair in front of you) which made the visuals seem even more real.
In essence, our senses were fooled and lied to us!
Did you know that you can’t trust your senses? That they will lie to you? In a similar fashion, we can’t trust our conclusions, our assumptions, and our emotions. While we can try to become as learned, as objective, as knowledgeable as we can, in the end, everything surrounding our physical bodies can deceive us.
This is true as we are dying. The body – and the accompanying emotions – fight against death. And Paul tells us that it is unnatural for our spirits to be without some kind of body. But the reality is, what we should long for is not to keep these corruptible bodies, but to embrace our heavenly bodies:
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling—if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 NRSV
“We do not wish to be unclothed.” Paul isn’t talking about clothing, but rather about our spirits being housed inside some kind of body. We need bodies! God made us that way. But these bodies are temporary and imperfect. He has promised us heavenly bodies and it’s those for which we should long.
We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8b NRSV
Is that true of us? If the Lord is truly our Beloved, the One who has saved us from eternal hell and damnation, the One who has loved us even before we loved Him, then shouldn’t we want to be at home with Him?