The Fear of Death & Me

It was the early nineties and concerning the subject of death, I was naïve–I had never experienced a funeral or the death of anyone I knew. Death was merely a plot point for video games and television, or the ultimate end of countless bugs squished without a second thought.

Death was impersonal. I neither had to think about it nor did it ever enter into my mind that one day such an event as death would occur to me.

My grandmother passed away in the early nineties, and that event changed me, at least on the inside. Playing video games on the television in mom’s bedroom was pretty much the only time I spent alone–Mom and my sister not being into gaming. So I would sit and play, and I couldn’t help but to have the thought enter into my mind: What happens after we die? The concept of Heaven was not real to me, and the only other possibility that I could think of was one of cessation, and as a pre-ten-year-old child, I would try to wrap my mind around what ceasing to exist would be like. Imagining non-existence proved impossible for me, and that scared me. I could imagine an endless sleep-like state, sans dreams. But I could not imagine a cessation of everything anymore than I could describe what life was like pre-birth (though I imagine warm and wet would be accurate).

The “problem with death” stuck with me. I could go without thinking about it for a few years, but it always managed to resurface, particularly when playing video games–events similar to when I first faced the thoughts. I dislike playing video games alone, and I think that is why–being alone means being able to think freely, allowing my imagination to run unfettered down a path that always leads to death’s doorway.

It isn’t just video games which allow for this kind of “alone thought.” When I was a child, movies and television were mindless entertainment. There was no reason to sit and think, but rather I could just allow myself to be entertained, allowing the characters on the screen to think for me. I’ve come to the point now where I do think through movies, examining the plot, thinking about the themes of the movie, looking for any kind of message that I should be taking away fromt he movie, and so on. This has served to provide even more alone thought time, whether I’m with someone else or not–while video gaming with others is a very social event, watching movies (especially in theaters) or television is not. The characters, of course, are doing enough socializing for everyone, the viewers included.

Now, in adulthood, I understand that the concept of a cessation of personal being is inate to the worldview of many who are atheists or secularists. I still find the concept difficult to wrap my mind around, and I am blown away that so many are willing to accept such an end simply because they can’t apply empiricism (and/or rationalism) to the concept of an afterlife.

I have come to understand that Heaven is real, and that a real Lord has chosen me to go there when my journey in this world ends. I have come to understand that death is not the end of life but is rather the separation of the living soul which is me from the vessel of clay that is my body. Death, far from being a cessation of being, is an absence, an absence from the body. But with that absence will also come, in my case and in the case of others who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, a presence with the Everlasting Father.

Knowing that has not done away with the “what if” thoughts that everything I believe doesn’t exist beyond the realm of belief itself. The thought of an eternal (if there can even be said to be such a thing as eternity in such a case) cessation of being is of course the ultimate thought which I again must face, along with all the terror that comes along with it.

Having this dismal view of life’s end has helped me to understand much about society–why we focus so much on youthful appearance, prolonging life, and making as big a mark on the world as we can, via legacy and lineage. Perhaps we might only exist for a short time, but our influence could outlive even civilizations depending on who we were.

I have always liked what the verse Hebrews 4:16 says: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace…” The context is of course prayer–through Jesus Christ, we have the privilege and the divinely imparted right to speak directly to God as He sits upon His throne. The more that verse echoes in my thoughts, the more I realize that the same principle should apply in death.

I do not need to fear death because when I die, I will be able to come boldly unto the throne of God. Whether I am led there by Jesus Christ Himself or ushered in by a host of angels, I cannot say. Perhaps upon arriving in Heaven, I will be granted time alone with my Savior, face to face for the very first time, that I might lay down at His feet, pouring my thanks before Him as if they were precious ointment upon His feet. How enrapturing that moment will be when, as the hymn says, my Jesus I shall see. We know so little of what will actually take place during this special meeting, and like another song says so very well, I can only imagine.

Philippians 1:20,21 confirms that in not only prayer but also death we can come boldly before God; “According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (NKJV).

Oh, that such a view of death would etch itself into my mind, forever replacing the nagging thought of an endless end with the truth that death for the Christian is a gift, a release from this life, a finishing of the freeing from sin and from Satan which began when we first believed. To know that even in our death Christ might be glorified, we can face it with all boldness!

How is it then, that being so convinced of these truths, can a mind be so tormented by what must be called a fictitious view of death? I could blame Satan, for such a view of death is a lie while Satan is a liar and the father of it. I could blame society, for so often affirming the secular while fictionalizing Heaven and Hell into cartoons and acts suitable of a circus side show. Or, more likely, I should blame myself for failing to allow the Word of God to daily transform my mind, and in so doing I have allowed so much of my thought concerning to death to be conformed to this world.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive … The last enemy that will be destroyed is death,” Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 15:22,25 (NKJV). May such a wonderful thought be my daily meditation, renewing my mind, wrecking its conformity with this world.

I have stood for the gospel when it seemed I stood alone
But through the heartache and frustration, I kept my focus on the throne
So many times I have recalled the Savior’s words so true
“If you won’t be ashamed of Me, I won’t be of you”
So I’ll proudly stand until I see the face of the One who gave everything for me

When the Reason that I’m standing stands in front of me
Every battle that I’ve fought will fade from memory
I’ll bow before His mighty throne and fall down on my knees
When the Reason that I’m standing stands in front of me

The road has not been easy; at times I’ve lost my way
So often I have stumbled searching for the light of day
Circumstances all around me, I thought I’d surely fall
The whispering of doubt and fear told me, “You will lose it all”
But He kept me with His amazing grace
And someday soon I’ll have the chance to thank Him face to face

When the Reason that I’m standing stands in front of me
Every battle that I’ve fought will fade from memory
I’ll bow before His mighty throne and fall down on my knees
When the Reason that I’m standing stands in front of me

We will join the millions, every kindred, tongue, and race
Every child of God that day will look upon His face
With the heroes and the martyrs who died on the pagan sword
We’ll all stand together and declare, “Jesus is Lord!”

When the Reason that I’m standing stands in front of me
Every battle that I’ve fought will fade from memory
I’ll bow before His mighty throne and fall down on my knees
When the Reason that I’m standing stands in front of me

“The Reason that I’m Standing” — The Crabb Family, Living Out the Dream

5 thoughts on “The Fear of Death & Me”

  1. It has been a long time coming as well. I’ve been wanting to write it for a few months now, but haven’t been able to put it into words.

    I don’t find it unreasonable to assume I’m alone as a Christian in having this particular wavering of faith. If there are others out there who happen to read this, I’d love to talk to them and hear how they deal with it and together work toward overcoming. I’m all for helping to bear another’s burden in this matter; in doing so, I might understand my own better.

  2. Oh, and I’m actually excited about death. Not to the point where I would take matters into my own hands but to the point of being at peace with it.

    I was raised in a Christian home, going to Sunday School every Sunday. Hearing the stories of Heaven. So when I was actually able to understand it, death had no power over me any longer. So unfortunately, I can’t really understand how your feeling.

  3. Perhaps Peter Pan said it best in Hook: “To die would be a great adventure.”

    Though he also afterwards said, “To live… to live would be an awfully big adventure.”

    For us to live is Christ, and He is the Way. What greater adventure could there be, than that which leads us down the path of our Savior and via death through to His presence.

    Hook told Peter that, “Death is the only adventure you have left,” but if “to live is Christ” then our adventure is far from over. Death is merely a milestone along the way, an exit from this temporal highway to that of Heaven.

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