Monthly Archives: February 2016

Revisiting Facing Death Without Fear

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.


Longing For Home

My youngest sister had offered us the use of their condo in Dominican Republic and we were flying down eager for the hot sun.  But our eagerness was nothing compared to the guy sitting next to me.  Wendy was by the window, I was in the middle seat and this guy named Alex was on the aisle.

Alex lives and works as a drywaller in the Vancouver area, but he’s originally from the Dominican.  We began chatting when I noticed he became rather tense when we went through some turbulence. “I don’t like to fly,” he confided in me in a heavy Dominican accent.

I discovered that Alex had come to Canada some twenty years ago looking for work when the economy at home was particularly depressed.  He began in Montreal but for the last five or six years had found better work on the West Coast.

I plied him for insider information about what to look for, where to find the best foods, his favorite rum and so on.  But he became very distracted when Wendy pointed out an island she could see below us.  Alex suggested it was one of the southernmost Islands of the Bahamas which meant we were almost at our destination.

As he leaned across me to try to catch a glimpse out the window he confessed, “I haven’t been home since 2009.  I haven’t seen my mother for seven years.”

Wendy and I were both moved by his growing excitement.  The closer we got the more animated he got, and talked about his mother and what he missed about his home till he was fairly vibrating.  Then as the pilot announced preparation for final approach and the plane banked to line up with the runway Alex finally saw the lush green mountains of his homeland and exclaimed with pride in his voice and tears in his eyes, “There’s my country! There’s my country!”

The poor guy could hardly stand himself as we taxied in and waited impatiently for the doors to open and the passengers to slowly file out of the aircraft.  When he finally stepped off and breathed that first scent of heavy tropical air I thought he would just burst.

As I bid my new friend farewell I realized I’d just seen a picture of what Paul was feeling when he knew he was getting close said “I long to go and be with Christ.”  (Philippians 1:23)

Hebrews 11:16 talks about people who “long for a better country – a heavenly one.”  Wouldn’t you like to be one of those who longs for their country and their Father, instead of fearing death?  The greater your intimacy with Jesus, the greater will be your longing.