Sunday, September 23, 2012
But God’s grace has made me what I am, and His grace to me was not wasted. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:10, NCV
Now since we preached that Christ was raised from the dead, why do some of you say that people will not be raised from the dead? If no one is ever raised from the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is worth nothing, and your faith is worth nothing. ~ I Corinthians 15:12-13, NCV
If our hope in Christ is for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone else in the world. ~ I Corinthians 15:10, NCV
For the better part of seven years my landlady has been listed as my emergency contact should the unthinkable happen while I’m her tenant in New York City. But yesterday, as I struggled to sit up in the middle of a street in New Jersey and someone asked me if I had an emergency contact, I replied, “No. There’s no one to call.” My landlady wasn’t going to come to New Jersey for me. In the seven years I’ve known her she’s never done one thing for me that didn’t benefit herself.
The knowledge that I had no one to call at that moment hurt as much as the reason the call was needed. And I now think of it as the lonliest moment in my life. A moment of truth of sorts, where I couldn’t hide behind the faςade of social connections we call friendships.
I was participated in a cycling event that started in New York City and looped through various townships in New Jersey. Somewhere in Tenafly, NJ, on a downhill stretch of road, I collided with a SUV.
The experience was very surreal in the way it seemed to unfold in slow motion and is also remembered in slow motion. Though I was the only cyclist on that stretch of road at the time, I was very visible riding a couple of feet from the curb. There were no obstructions between me and the cars, nothing to weave in and out of, nothing to block me from the view of drivers behind me. Many cars whizzed past me on that stretch of downhill road. But the driver who hit me claimed to not have seen me. I’ve come to the conclusion that she either didn’t see me (i.e. she wasn’t paying attention to the road at all) or she simply thought her SUV had the right of way and the cyclist would have to adjust. I heard the vehicle coming up behind me. A quick glance over my shoulder had me inching closer to the curb. By the time the vehicle was alongside me, it was angling into my space. By the time I realized I couldn’t even stop even though I was fiercely pumping my brakes, she was speeding up and cutting across me to make a right turn.
Before impact, I was hoping to slow enough to let her pass, but there wasn’t enough space for that to happen as we were pretty much at the intersection when she turned in front of me. The moment after I realized a collision was imminent, my next thought was, “This is how I’m going to go.”
The first point of contact was the front wheel of my bike hitting the front right side of the SUV at about a 35 degree angle. As the driver completed the turn, me and my bike were pulled into a parallel position alongside the SUV right before my bike went under the tires of the vehicle. Amazingly, I was thrown from my seat and ended up rolling off the backend of the SUV as it completed the turn. Somehow in the seconds it took for all this to happen, I heard the horrifying screech of metal on metal and saw the wheels of my bike get ran over by the SUV.
I’ve heard many times that people’s’ lives flash before their eyes in such life-threatening moments. There were no life-slideshow of memories that came to my mind in the seconds leading up to the collision. However, the faces of my loved ones who have preceded me in death came vividly to mind. I thought of my mother, my brother and my youngest sister – all precious and all long gone. There was no sadness attached to their images. Instead, there was a sense of reunion and comfort.
But Christ has truly been raised from the dead—the first one and proof that those who sleep in death will also be raised. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:20, NCV
Christ must rule until he puts all enemies under his control.26 The last enemy to be destroyed will be death. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:25-26, NCV
I’m not going to claim to recognize the full lesson here for me, but this morning, the day after my collision, I do recognize and appreciate that I have living to do. On my way to church, it came to mind that perhaps my focus in recent years has been too much on death – the dead, the dying, the lost, the missing, being rejected, feeling abandoned, being treated as if I’m invisible and insignificant to people in the world….
Truthfully, that had become a disproportionate focus of mine. Even as I tried to speak life to my self, I was looking at the decay encroaching upon me and nearly smothering me. Deceased loved ones. Corroded relationships. The emptiness of living alone for so long. For every ounce of hope I had, it seemed I was being doused with gallons of despair. I’ve felt chased and surrounded by death for many years… to the point that I’ve been on the lookout for death to come and get me. That’s not to say that I have a “death wish” but I’ve ceased to live as if have a “life wish”.
And that is my revelation this morning.
It’s not enough to live with an expiration date flashing in your mind. Yes, chances are we are all going to die — physically. We’re told that Elijah was taken up into heaven in a blazing chariot of fire at the end of his time on earth (2 Kings 2). That’s one person, in untold billions of people who have walked the earth; one person who didn’t have to die here. So, yes, chances are good that my physical expiration date is going to come, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t live with a hope and expectancy for life as if life itself will never end. Indeed, in John 11:25-26 Jesus tells us, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will have life even if they die. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Martha (Shawnda), do you believe this?”
Yes, Lord, I do believe!
The weeks following the collision have been rough emotionally and physically. I experienced a great deal of disappointment and anger, but I never lost sight of the miracle that is the Life of Christ in me. I pray whatever hardships you encounter, you too remember the One True Friend who sticks closer than any brother.
I pray the peace and joy of Jesus Christ over you all.
And what about us? Why do we put ourselves in danger every hour? I die every day. That is true, brothers and sisters, just as it is true that I brag about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:30-31
“Death is destroyed forever in victory.” — Isaiah 25:8
“Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your pain?” — Hosea 13:14
Death’s power to hurt is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But we thank God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
So my dear brothers and sisters, stand strong. Do not let anything move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your work in the Lord is never wasted. ~1 Corinthians 15:54-58, NCV
Victory is mine Victory is mine Victory today is mine. I told Satan to get thee behind Victory today is mine. Joy / Happiness / Peace is mine Joy / Happiness / Peace today is mine. I told Satan to get thee behind Joy / Happiness / Peace today is mine. Christ is mine Christ is mine Christ today is mine. I told Satan to get thee behind Christ today is mine.