It’s estimated that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on US beaches alone exceeds 100. I was very close to being one of those statistics on our recent trip to Dominican Republic.
I wrote the following words about the fear of death a few years ago. As I faced the very real and imminent possibility that my strength and energy would fail before I reached the safety of shallow water I was forced to ask myself this question: “Ok smart guy, you’re the one whose been telling people you’re not afraid of death . . . is that really true?”
1 John 4:14-18 teaches that God’s love releases us from a fear of death. Essentially it tells us that the better we know and experience God’s love through knowing Jesus, the less we will fear death. Someone cleverly put it like this: Know Christ, No Fear. Let me help you understand how this works with an imaginary story.
An orphan boy who lived on the street was caught breaking into a jewelry store. As he stood before the judge to hear his punishment he was astonished to hear that the owner of the store had not only offered to look after the damages to the store and pay a large fine in lieu of jail-time, but that he had also offered to adopt the boy and bring him into his own home. The only stipulation was that the boy must accept the offer of adoption in order to receive the offer of paying for his penalty.
The boy accepted, but was at the same time very fearful of what sort of punishment he might be in for, or that maybe he would be made to live like a slave in the man’s house. The boy was afraid because he didn’t really know the man who wanted to be his father. He hadn’t yet experienced the fullness of his new father’s forgiveness and the extravagance of his love.
This simple story falls far short, not leastways in that the sentence for our sin is death – eternal death, but God’s gift to us is eternal life. If you are not yet a Christ follower you have good reason to be afraid of death, but you can leave that fear behind by accepting God’s gift through Jesus.
If you have become a Jesus follower and yet still the fear of death lingers, ask God to remove it. He will. It will likely be through a process of deepening intimacy with Jesus, rather than a sudden freedom from fear, but he will do it.
I’ve discovered I’m certainly in no hurry for death, and that particularly through drowning I’m not eager for the process of dying. But I can affirm it is possible to face death without fear. Know Jesus, No Fear.