I lost my dad at the age of 18. He died at 49 years old. I never met his father my grandfather he died early as well. To this day I haven’t truly gotten over the loss of my dad. Something else happened in that loss. I lost something else that has haunted me ever since. It is the fear of dying young. Not that I fear death. I fear what happens to those that are left behind like I was. To be even more brutally honest I fear a long drawn out sickness like my dad and then a slow death. My dad died of cancer. He had half of his lung removed and continued to smoke. He died of stomach ulcers and liver issues due to alcohol abuse. At 42 my dad began the battle of his life and 7 years later he lost that battle. I remember holding his back and side together so he could cough without as much pain. Since that time the fear of a long drawn out death leaving behind those I love dearly has literally haunted me.
As a result of this haunting, every small pain I have is fatal. Anxiety robs me of life’s every day pleasures and joys. Just writing this and exposing this creates a bit of anxiousness and fear. But I will no longer suffer in silence. I know there are others out there just like me. If fact I met one today that encouraged me to write this blog and he doesn’t even know it. Back in 2005-06 this fear tried to overtake me once again. I found myself frozen in time not seeking to advance. My wife picked up on my mood and asked me what was happening. I’ll never forget it a song came on the tv by Aerosmith, “I don’t want to close my eyes. I don’t want to fall asleep cause I’d miss you baby and I don’t want to miss a thing.” I turned to her and shared my fears. I had gotten so busy worrying about dying that I forgot to live! (DON’T MISS THAT) I went to a therapist and after a few sessions she saw what was going on. She said, “You have something very unique happening inside of you. You fear death but you can see the future. Why is that?” I told her because I am a Christ follower and death is not the end for the believer. Then she asked me a profound question, “What if you have a sickness or die? What can you do about it?” I replied, “Nothing I guess.” She said, “Then why worry?” I left that office that day and I turned on my car cd player a good friend of mine’s cd was playing he was singing a song “Every thing that I have. Every breath that I take until it’s my last. Every beat of my heart. Every step that I take until there’s no more.Lord I live just to give my life to you.” I decided that day that would be my pledge. No matter what happens I will preach the Gospel with every thing that I have until I see Jesus in sickness and in health and all points in between. I have tried to fulfill that commitment daily. Some days are better than others. Lately I have been struggling because life is so good.I am living my dream as a pastor and church planter of City on a Hill Church. My wife and I are celebrating 20 years of marriage this April. I have twin niece and nephew that adore their Uncle Mike and they own a large piece of my heart.All of these factors and missing out on them make that fear I have rear it’s ugly head. Not so much because of what I’ll miss but because I would never want to put any sadness in their hearts. I have only one conclusion. God is good and He will carry them. He is already carrying them. They are in His care not mine. How would they survive without me? By God’s grace. The same way I survived without my dad. I wanted to share a few scriptures and thoughts I came across just in case anyone else is going through or shares my dilemma.
Do not fear dying, or suffering before you die.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Romans 8:18-19 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Don’t fear that you will be a burden to others.
One reason we have a fear of death is that we worry about being a burden to others. That’s a normal fear. But the Bible says we are all connected to one another (Romans 12:4-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Don’t fear for those you will leave behind.
If we die first, God will still be with them! Remember, God loves them much more than we do!
Psalm 10:14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.
Psalm 68:5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
Philippians 4:6-8 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
I came across this poem while watching the movie Act of Valor. I must admit it didn’t help my anxiety concerning leaving my loved ones behind. But this I found this poem strangely comforting.
“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.” -Tecumseh
The death song for the believer isn’t a dirge it is a song of celebration. We truly do die like heroes going home. This is where trust in God really comes into play. Do we really honestly believe that God is sovereign? Do we really truly honestly believe that earth is not our home or final resting place? Do we really live life through the lens of eternity? Do we really believe it is God and not us that provides for, watches over, and protects our loved ones? These are all true questions that must be settled by God’s grace through prayer and faith.
I wanted to share this today to put an end to silent suffering. I know being this transparent can make me seem weak.But I don’t care! Leaders lead! If leading with transparency and authenticity creates a perception of weakness this is my cross to bear and I bear it willingly by the grace of God. I know my life is hidden in Christ. My hope is that my transparency will give others permission to be free. William Wallace once said, “All men die only few men truly live.” I want to be one of the men that truly live. My hope is that by sharing this that other men and women who suffer in silence with this or anything else will find the courage to expose it is to the light of truth and be encouraged. My hope is that this breaks the ice and many whose fears have them frozen will fight back and live the lives God has planned for them. Since 2005-06 I have been trying to live this way. I have bought a home (my wife’s dream), planted a church (my dream) and used the words I love you to the people (men and women) God has placed in my life unashamedly. I’m not done yet and neither are you. Let’s get busy living. Be encouraged!