Then, But Even More Now

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The last bits of springtime rays are streaming through the open slats of the blinds. The oxygen tank puffs air at irregular intervals. His chest rises at an even less regular pace.
It seems strange that someone should be dying on a day as beautiful as this.

Sitting with my grandfather in his last hours, holding his hands of waning life, I think about the life those hands have lived. 97 years of life. They have seen life, they have seen death. Birthdays, wars, homecomings, funerals, successes, failures, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
And I pray.

As I do, it has struck me that our culture seems to remember God only in distress.
Not that it’s a unique concept. The people of the Old Testament repeatedly forgot about God until they were in trouble.
Until they were desperate.

I was reading in Psalms 107 last night and noticed this repeating cycle. Right up to the Then:

 26[The redeemed] mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

Throughout my lifetime, my most ardent prayers have similarly been the ones offered through tears of desperation; when I reach the end of myself, at the end of my physical capability to bear pain.
The thing is, as a follower of Jesus, this is my call every day; to die to myself: “I have been crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
I am not meant to bear the pain I carry. God gladly takes it from me but I have to give it to him. To commit every aspect—and person—in my life into His care.
It’s scary because we like control, and to think that we can care for it best. But in the end, every time, we reach the end of ourselves. And cry out to the One it belonged to all along.

God is the Great Comforter (it’s true, not just a wise crack about missing church on Sunday morning), but that’s only one aspect of His Love. He is with us, at our death bed but even more in every single moment of everyday leading us there. Let [us] give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind (v. 31). Now. With an awareness of our need for Him even while we have strength yet to choose otherwise, but knowledge enough to know no other way will satisfy.

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