We all have major points in our lives, “pivots” as it were, where a major, often tragic, event happens and our live is turned in a completely different direction. December 21, 2017 is the two-year anniversary of one of those events for me.
Today I will be putting a rose on the grave of Evelyn Grace, the young daughter of one of my best friends. Having no kids of my own, I enjoy spending time with the kids of my friends and family. It lets gives me a taste of fatherhood and motivates me to work towards a family of my own. Whenever I would visit my friend and hang out with him and his wife, I would hold Evelyn, make faces at her and she would smile and wrinkle her big forehead (inherited from her father), and occasionally rock her to sleep on my shoulder. In many ways I loved her like she was a daughter of my own.
She was only 6 months old when she suddenly died in her sleep. Her dad had put her down for the night and found her dead in her crib when he checked on her a couple hours later. I can only assume that God had decided that he wanted her more than we did. There was nothing anyone could have done for her and no long drawn-out disease for anyone to suffer through. One minute she fell asleep and the next minute she was looking at the face of Christ. The only regrets anyone had was that they hadn’t spent as much time as they wanted with her. One week I was carrying her around, and the next I was looking at her tiny body in a casket.
Funerals are about the only time it is permissible for a man to cry. There were a lot of tears at Evelyn’s funeral. Her grandfather, my pastor, did the service and sang “The Anchor Holds” at the end. I certainly added my share of the tears and did my best to comfort my friend. I even promised to be with her if I beat him to Heaven, a promise I still take seriously.
It was the drive after the funeral that was the start of a major pivot. Like most of you, the only loved ones who had died were my grandparents and the older relatives of friends who had all lived a full life and were ready to go. I had very little to look forward to beyond this life. Death is not something to be feared when you have received the salvation of Christ, but I viewed it as a retirement home. Something that is inevitable and a pleasant place to live in eternity, but not something to savor and desire in the present. Death was something to be avoided until necessary, not something to be embraced. But once I had someone I was aching to see again, I became indifferent towards death. Indeed I embraced my coming departure from this world. I learned first-hand what Paul had meant when he said:
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
Philippians 1:21-24 ESV
I had prayed the prayer of Elijah and Tobit and asked for death. God said no, that He had a lot of things that He was going to use me for. So I asked that whenever He was done with me, that He’d take me quickly, and He accepted that. And God has used me in ways I couldn’t have imagined since then. When you don’t care if you live or die, you become a lot more bold and take more risks.
I attended an ROK meetup hosted by a guy named Jak. I left my job and travelled around (meeting a guy named J Nyx along the way). I built the SJWList and took flak from the SJWs (becoming the Cynic In Chief in the meantime). I even stood in the middle of angry protestors at the RNC and calmly took death threats at a Black Lives Matter march at the DNC. When you place your life in the hands of God, you can do things that the old you would never have done. When you have looked death in the face you can adopt a ZFG attitude that let you do what others are afraid of doing and enjoy what life you have more richly than before.
This Christmas, enjoy every moment you can with your loved ones. Whether it’s your children, your spouse, or even yourself, everyone will die sooner or later. Find salvation in Christ, for he offers both a hope for eternity and a purpose for this life. Say a prayer for my friend and his wife, they are still grieving. Learn to embrace death and live life. Even if you haven’t been through the kind of trial that directly teaches it at a fundamental level, at least learning it at an intellectual level will help you have that boldness and ZFG attitude.
Lord, thank you for giving us each day here and though your Son an eternity with You. Evelyn, we miss you and look forward to seeing you again in eternity.
There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of living.
Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget that until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words: Wait and Hope.
The Count of Monte Cristo