Dying Is Easier the Second Time

Dying, for many, is a one-time event. 

Not for me. This was my second attempt. 

I died the first time almost six years ago. An abnormal pap smear, followed by an elevated cancer marker caused my doctors to schedule me for surgery with an uncertain outcome. 

As the mother of teenaged daughters, fearful thoughts filled my mind. I began to imagine our family picture without an important face—mine. I thought of the graduations, marriages, and grandchildren I had yet to see, the books I hoped to write, and the work I hoped to accomplish for the Lord. As I pondered two possible outcomes, I knew, either way, I was going to have to die. 

Or at least be willing to. 

We always imagine we’d glorify  God best through a long, healthy, pain-free life, but this isn’t always the case. I’ve watched ordinary people bring God extraordinary glory as they’ve walked through intense physical suffering. Joni Eareckson Tada, hymn-writer Fanny Crosby, and the apostle Paul himself, all have demonstrated that knowing God intimately always trumps a pain-free life. They prove that some of God’s most beautiful and powerful testimonies are painted from a palette of suffering, sometimes on a canvas of death. 

And so, faced with my own scary, uncertain existence, I did what Beth Moore suggests—follow it all the way to its worse possible conclusion. “When you do,” she says, “you’ll find God there.” 

She was right.

Pondering a me-less future, I sat with my Bible and read the story of the children of Israel preparing to cross the Red Sea. Sandwiched between the formidable Egyptian army and the raging waters, they had one option—step into the sea. To remain on shore meant certain death. To step into the water meant possible death. 

We know from our 21st century perspective that at the moment the first priest’s sandal touched the water, deliverance happened. But it didn’t happen until he stepped in. As I pondered the sea of surgery, I wondered if it would be my death or my deliverance. I chose to die. I died to my ideas and my plans for how I could best glorify God. 

“Lord,” I prayed, with frightened sobs punctuating my words, “if you can bring yourself more glory by healing me and giving me a long life in which to serve you, I ask you to heal me. If you can bring yourself more glorify through disease, and possibly even death, then I accept that. More than anything, I want to bring you glory and point others to you. I say with Job, ‘though you slay me, yet will I trust in you.’ 

So into the water I go.” 

By now it’s obvious that I didn’t die. On the outside, anyway. But that day marked the point where I surrendered my life to the cause of Christ with no conditions. That day, and the decision that accompanied it, remains a spiritual marker of my wholehearted, unconditional commitment to the Lord. 

I had the opportunity to die again last spring. I can honestly say, once you’ve died once, the second time is much easier. 

More puzzling symptoms, more scary “what-ifs,” more potentially chronic or life-threatening problems. But this time, I knew what to do—just go ahead and die and get it over with. 

 “Lord, if you can glorify yourself most through my chronic illness or my premature death, I am willing. If you can do it best through my health and my life, I ask for healing. Either way, I want to glorify you.” 

What about you? Is there a part of God’s will for your future you’re not willing to accept? I encourage you to trust him. God has been faithful to saints through the ages, and he will care for you.

I’d love to hear your story of surrender and how God was able to use it. Leave a comment below to bless us all. 

If you're reading this by email, click HERE to watch this beautiful word from Shane and Shane and John Piper.

Do you feel overloaded, overwhelmed, and overtired? I have the answer: the Women to Women Spring Conference at Springmaid Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach. I'll be joining the lovely Janet Powers Roller and Cherie Nettles to present "Too Stressed to Be Blessed? Come Away!" on March 28-30. It's an amazingly affordable weekend filled with practical Bible teaching, powerful praise music, and timely devotions. And did I mention LOTS of free time? Grab a girlfriend and come along! I’d love to have you join me. You’ll find all the information here:

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1 comment:

  1. My mom died when I was 19, so reading your story brought me right back to the realities of death that we all -- at some point -- will face. It is amazing to read how the Lord is working in other people's lives.