"We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses...As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing..." ~II Corinthians 6:1, 4, 9, 10 KJV

What is it, exactly, that I fear in the darkest hour of the night? What about dying is so scary? It's not just that I want to stay on this green earth for my children, my husband, my parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephews, my grandparents, my friends. I am afraid of the physical and spiritual process of dying. It is such a vast unknown. Even the Bible has little to say that lets me know what to expect.

I am afraid of death for the same reason I don't like swimming in most lakes. I dip below the surface, not knowing what swims with me in the murky darkness. I am touched by things floating in the water with me that I cannot see, my feet sink into soggy muck that I cannot recognize with my toes, pieces of weeds and grass cling to my ankles and pull at my feet. I can't see it, understand it, grasp it, name it...the water is full of things that are beyond my ability to know or comprehend. Death is the same...it is sinking below the water for the first time, not knowing how long I will be under, when I will draw breath again, whether or not my lungs will burn while I am waiting to be rescued.
'Under it my genius is rebuked' (Shakespeare, MacBeth III:i). What will my eyes behold, what will I smell, hear, feel, breathe while I am dying? Am I entering another universe, or just another dimension of the one I currently occupy? Will someone be with me or will I be alone? Do I have to 'cross' something to get there? How will I do it - physically? Spiritually? Will I still have a sense of my body? Will it matter??

I have watched children die and adults as well. I beg for the childlike faith that surrenders to death like everything else, walking forward without contemplating these vast questions, without realizing that there is that great unknown void of knowledge into which to step. How to surrender these questions and die by faith as I have lived? How to give up that ultimate last thread of control (or misplaced sense of control) over my own life and steps and give way to God with dignity, belief, and peace? That I do not know...yet. The regrettable truth that we so often sidestep is that we are all dying. "As dying, yet we live"! Our day is coming, now, later. "In the most complex of all creatures, Man, yet another quality appears, which we call reason, whereby he is enabled to foresee his own pain which henceforth is preceded with acute mental suffering, and to foresee his own death while keenly desiring permanence." (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain) I could pretend that I don't know I'm going to die; I could push the questions about death out of my mind. But for me, logical, reasoning person that I was created to be, I must name them, bring them out into the light and inspect them, and lay them before the feet of my Savior and beg for understanding! I cannot just put them away in some dark closet, never to be pondered again. It is not my nature. The key is what I do with these questions. Do they become a root of bitterness and anxiety that I water and weed and tend, so that the plant of those emotions grows up to dwarf my faith in an infinitely loving Savior? Or do I truly believe, absorb the truth that Christ "suffered unto death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His" (George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons)? Do I trust that there are things I am not meant to, nor designed to, know - yet He knows them, loves me, will teach me slowly, kindly, as I am on that "narrow pathway through the needle's eye, I'm stepping forward to the place I die. For I know that You are faithful" (David Ruis, Faithful)

Indescribable, uncontainable,

You placed the stars in the sky and
You know them by name.
You are amazing God

All powerful,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim

You are amazing God

~ Chris Tomlin,