Monday, July 25, 2005

Checking in ... briefly

I've hardly touched my computer in the last few days, so there's my excuse for the blogging silence. The life of the summer vacationer can be very busy! We had a wedding in our yard last weekend (it was beautiful but lots of work; I also had the unexpected joy of hanging out with old friends at the reception), I picked out a puppy yesterday (tee hee, they're SO cute!), and I started assembling some of the "finer points" of my house today. It should be all painted tomorrow, and then my mom and I are going to go in and do a bit of faux painting. Well, a bit more than a bit. It rained in Billings off and on all day, which made for a good day to stay inside and work.

I've had many things run through my brain lately, of which I think, "I should blog that." But I didn't get to the computer before they were gone. I will conclude however, with a rather strange thought...

Do you ever have those dreams when you wake up right before you die? Apparently, my subconsciousness thought it should be snowy in Billings right now, and that the city should be compressed into a few main sites that are actually quite far from each other (for Billings folks: I was in the heights, and I had to go downhill about 5 blocks to get to Senior, but I slid past the turn on the ice and landed at the base of something very similar to the Beartooth Highway). And then I had to get in what looked like a combination between a semi trailer and a school bus to go up this monstrous precipice. We were tearing up the hill (pure ice) and just went right over the edge ... and I woke up after the first bounce of the trailer. It was approximately 5:37, and I tried so hard to go back to sleep for another 20 minutes (alarm was set for 5:55). But going through my head at hyperspeed was, "To live is Christ and to die is gain."

I pray that if I'm ever in a situation where I have a split second to think, "I'm going to die," the next thing on my mind will be, "To die is gain ... it is better by far to depart and to be with Christ."

I was also mulling over this after a conversation with my dear friend who is much more acquainted with grief and sorrow than I. First of all, show me someone who truly (functionally) believes that "to die is gain," and I will show you someone who loves Jesus much more than I (as Christian said this morning, praise God that what counts is HIS faithfulness, not our own).

Secondly, though, I think I need to do more thinking about Paul's statement that "to live is Christ." Paul doesn't mean that living and dying are equally fun, or that "living Christ" is just holding hands with Jesus ("happy, happy"). When Paul talks about living Christ, he talks about identifying with Christ in his crucifixion, about being persecuted, about boasting in his weaknesses. In a word, "to live is Christ" means that we have the privilege of sharing in Christ's suffering. Just as his life on earth was a time of humiliation that necessarily preceded his exaltation, we can't jump to "to die is gain" without coming to realize the fulness of our fallenness, both in our sinfulness and simply by living in a fallen environment. Then we will start to see what it is to "live Christ."

As oft-quoted as this verse is, it's not an easy one to sign up for when you actually contemplate Christ's own life and the life that he calls us to live. But, by his grace, may I grow in his image now so that when he calls me home, I will joyfully abandon whatever I'm doing for the fulness of life to be gained by my death.

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