Loving More, Holding Less

February is the month of love. So, let’s talk about love…and dying. Ok, it’s a one sided conversation about the way we love the dying and the way we love the Lord. How can our perspective on death support someone who may have already lost a loved one or may even now be sitting beside them, holding their hand, cherishing the moments till that last breath? Is that, perhaps, even you?

Dear Christian friend, death is on my mind. I don’t say this in a morbid or evil way. Death is complicated as is the way we hold onto the dying in our hearts and before the throne of grace. We are filled with sorrow at the news of terminal illness, hating the very thought of losing those we love so deeply. While we are concerned for them, we think of what we don’t know and can‘t control and how empty we will be when they are gone.

According to one source, death is the permanent cessation of vital functions of all living organisms. That’s very scientific! But, while factual for the body, not so for the spirit!

It’s only February of 2021 and I know of seven, off the top of my head, who have been promoted to glory. Four on the same day! In fact, this past year has opened the eyes of all worldwide who watch and calculate death, then confirm it to the world and mandate that you need to be more aware of it and take precautions to keep from it!

Death makes us sad; the thought of it, the fear of it, the certainty of it, the eminence of it, the absoluteness of it. It happens! We can not stop it, only delay it. We think that we have some control of it, some way to slow it down. There are those that don’t or won’t think of it – as if denial will change anything.

In my Bible reading this morning of genealogies it casually states – he lived and he died. I realize there is nothing that is casual about death, but it is common and often unexpected.

What do you think about death? You may have a strong emotional feeling tied to it, tied to the one you love that is now “gone”. I do. I stood by the bedside of my father, my mother and my father-in-law and watched them pass. I cared for several others in their final days. In the past year I have grieved with many friends over the loss of those they love.

When my father was brought home from the hospital on hospice, he told us as we gathered around him, that he did not come home to die. He was going to get better, but denial didn’t change the facts.

Dad spoke often that he and his beloved wife would be gloriously raptured with all the saints of God. This is indeed a wonderful and blessed hope as Titus 2:11 tells us, “Looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

The truth is that we look forward to being raptured and live everyday in the reality of it, but we don’t get to choose it over death! Ecclesiastes 8:8 “No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, And no one has power in the day of death.”

Dad’s hope in the Lord’s coming seemed to supersede his love of God! I don’t mean to speak evil or harsh of my father who lived a life of godliness and longed to be in his eternal home. Yet, I was surprised from watching him in the last week of his life. Somehow it seemed he had lost the joy and longing for the Lord Himself and he wanted to hold onto this life and to his wife of 57 years!

Please, don’t misunderstand me, I would never criticize those who love their spouse or family and life. They are precious gifts from God. But shouldn’t the depth of our love for God be greater still? The principle to love God with all our heart and soul implies a greater love than that of family.

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Matthew 10:37

Here is the main thought, the question that I ask myself. How much do I love the Lord? Do I long to be with Him? Is He my hope or have I only loved the “thought” of being with Him?

Do I long for a promotion into His Presence? Do I see the eternal joys beyond the earthly perspective of sorrow and loss? Am I longing with great anticipation to be with the Savior that I love? How do I get to this place of loving the Lord more than this life?

2 Corinthians 5:8 tells us, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” As I dwell on Him, study Him and cherish the moments of quietness with Him; as I give Him first place in my heart, then when I near the end of life I should with joy anticipate being promoted into His glorious Presence, the place where my heart is anchored! I believe this and it gives me great pleasure to know, “I am my beloved’s and His desire is towards me” Song of Songs 7:10!

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God? Psalms 42:1-2

Taking care of the matter of our sin and eternal standing is important. Salvation and deliverance from sin is a must! But let’s not neglect the relationship that made it possible! Now is the time to grow deeply in love with the person of the Lord Jesus. He is what heaven is all about! We are told to “love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment (Mark 12:30). Friend, it is more than a commandment. It is the reality of His love for me and mine for Him. It is true love.

I believe living this way would change our attitude about the certainty of death. If we looked forward to the time of our passing as a promotion or as the bride who longs to dwell with her one true love, then it might change our approach to a terminal diagnosis or the grief of a sudden passing. It might help us grieve without so much pain. It might help us recover from loss a little more gracefully. It might help to comfort us and the dying when we speak with joyful expectation of being united with our One True Love! Oh, let us love Him more and hold to this life less.