Monday, July 28, 2008

Choose Life

I couldn't open my eyes--everything became shadows of black and grey. The Dr.'s said I was photo phobic which apparently was a fancy word for extreme light sensitivity. It was a result of an intense headache caused by the infection that had invaded my body. I had been in and out of the emergency room since a standard surgery. For some reason my body didn't heal properly and an infection had taken root. The Dr.'s could not isolate the source and despite their best attempts, life slowly seeped out of my body like the afternoon gives way to darkness of night. I knew it wasn't good and that I needed to fight, but I was so tired and the pain was relentless. If I could just sleep for a few hours, surely I'd feel better. That's what I thought, but it wasn't to be. My condition became worse and the Dr.'s couldn't keep my blood pressure up--my body was choosing death. In those moments, I can't imagine what it was like for my husband. Between fits of consciousness I remember being aware of him, helpless and confused. What could he do? He was at the mercy of a plethora of doctor's best guesses. While they looked at him with blank faces and question mark eyes he silently pleaded to God for help. His wife's body lay grey and limp on a hospital bed and there was nothing in the entire world he could do but pray. And he did. He chose to pray for life. Deuteronomy 30:15-20 says, "Look! I have set before you today life and prosperity on the one hand, and death and disaster on the other. What I am commanding you today is to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to obey his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances. Then you will live and become numerous and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are about to possess. however, if you turn aside and do not obey, but are lured away to worship and serve other gods, I declare to you this very day that you will certainly perish! You will not extend your time in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess. Today I invoke heaven and earth as a witness against you that I have set life and death, blessing and curse, before you. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live! I also call on you to love the Lord your God, to obey him and be loyal to him, for he gives you life and enables you to live continually in the land the lord promised to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." The few weeks following my surgery is the closest I have ever come to death. I remember snatches and bits of that time like black and white photos from someone else's life. I remember the ambulance ride--I think it was snowing as they carried my gurney into the posterior mouth of the ambulance. I see the black sky interrupted by flashes of white dust. It fell on my cheeks like ashes. I couldn't remember though, what my babies were wearing the last time I was rushed to the emergency room. I couldn't recall the last words I had whispered to them. I couldn't, no matter how desperately I wanted remember the last drink I had poured for them or the last breakfast meal I had served them. All I could see were their eyes sitting atop their plump cheeks and those sweet little eyes weren't ready to say goodbye to their mommy. And I remember insisting, knowing, declaring without a doubt that it wasn't my time to die. My precious little boys were so young--I hadn't seen them come to know Christ yet. I needed to live. And God granted my heart's desire--he extended my days. I don't know why He brought me to that point, but I do know He gave me life on earth for some time longer. Here in Deuteronomy God gave the Israelites the choice of life or death. The implications of that passage are far reaching. Their extension stretches beyond the physical into the spiritual. Scripture says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly." (John 10:10) Make no mistake about it, Jesus' intention for our lives is to give us abundant life--overflowing, continually producing life. The Blue Letter Bible Online Lexicon defines the Greek word used for life here as "life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God." My favorite though are the various words The Blue Letter Bible Lexicon uses to describe the Greek phrase used for abundant. Consider a few of these: "over and above, more than is necessary, superadded, exceeding abundantly, supremely, something further, more, much more than all, more plainly, superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon, pre-eminence, superiority, advantage, more eminent, more remarkable, more excellent." I love the idea that God wants to give me a life that is superadded to by his own Son. The only thing I can liken the kind of life God intends for us is to a brownie. We've all had them--soft and gooey, slightly buttery on the outside and rich chocolate as we bite--brownies are certainly a reminder of how alive we in fact are. But have you ever had one of my brownies? To mine, I superadd. A brownie in my personal opinion isn't good until I've added semisweet chocolate chips to the batter and then I like to blanket the surface with a dark chocolate frosting like a fluffy duvet. There are times when I even add a sheet of cream cheese frosting beneath the dark chocolate layer. Now this brownie is not for the faint of heart--it is for the fully devoted chocolate lovers. The abundant life is for those followers of Christ who are fully devoted--those who continually and consistently choose life. It is my prayer that in the next few posts we can dig into just what it means to choose life pra ctically speaking. How do we choose life from day to day? What does it mean to choose blessing? I believe we make a choice in the words we speak, in the food we consume, in the beliefs we choose to accept as true, in our relationships, in our careers, in our workplaces, with our children and our spouses and our parents. We choose every day whether we will live or whether we will take small steps towards a death. I'd like to dig deeper and I hope you'll join me. Blessings until then, Sarah

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