I’m ready to die. Well, sort of. Let me put it this way: I’m not afraid of what comes after death. I never really have been. Even before I accepted God’s free gift of salvation made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection, I didn’t give the topic a lot of thought. Of course, I was only six years old at the time and much more concerned about learning to count money and being line leader than the afterlife!
When I did confess my sin to God and ask Jesus to come into my heart and be my boss forever, I did so not so much because I didn’t want to die and go to hell, although I knew that was the penalty for sin that everyone owed, but because I hated the thought of not belonging to God, not being His child. I realized that being His creation was not the same thing as being adopted into His family, and I began to want a deeper relationship with Him. It was a yearning that I didn’t have a name for.
Then, one night, as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, Jesus drew me, and my heart began to pound. I didn’t hear any audible words, but I knew that Jesus was telling me it was time for me to surrender, not just to repeat a prayer after my parents, something I knew would happen as a part of the process, but to give Him my very heart, so that’s what I did with my daddy’s help.
Ever since that day, I’ve known deep in my soul, even in times of willful rebellion, that I belonged to God, that He was my Father, and that He would remain faithful even when I was not. I knew because He never left me and never let me enjoy the sin that made communication with Him difficult, but disciplined me like a beloved daughter, bringing me back time and time again to the same heart posture of surrender that had come more easily in the very beginning.
Jesus’ Spirit lives within me still, correcting me, comforting me, and promising me eternity in Heaven with the Father, so the afterlife doesn’t concern me. However, the process of dying does. That’s what gets my heart to pumping when I think about it too long. That’s what highjacks my thoughts before every doctor’s visit and sends my imagination into orbit every time a lymph node swells, that and the prospect of leaving my precious loved ones behind, my family, in particular, my husband and children, most specifically.
Even in this moment, the very thought of being separated from them for any length of time makes my breath catch, my throat close, and my eyes grow hot with tears. When Jesus calls me home, who will love and encourage my sweet Todd as he deserves? Who will comfort Hunter and Hope, my babies? Who will listen to them and love them enough to tell them the Truth even when it hurts?
In the not so distant past, concerns like these drove me to outline a little book for my family to read in my absence in the off-chance that my death came suddenly and without warning, robbing me of the opportunity to voice lengthy good-byes with tender, carefully chosen words. Full of favorite Bible verses, lessons learned, and love letters, I Need You to Know would serve as a sort of go-to resource when my husband needed to be reminded that he was not only loved, but cherished or when my children needed guidance or reassurance that they were never alone, but held.
The outline no longer exists.
You see, as I made notes, I found that every answer I offered, every story I told, every sentiment I recorded came back to one thing, one person, one answer. In the end, it all boiled down to Jesus.
It’s no wonder, really. He is my comfort, my source, my encouragement, my joy, my purpose, my rock, my standard, my refuge, my strength, my dearest friend, my brother, my faithful companion, my help, my Savior, my Counselor, my security, my peace, my relief, and the list goes on and on and on and on.
Everything that I could ever want those whom I love most to know and experience in this life and the next can be found in Jesus Christ. Truth? They don’t really need a little book from me to get them through; they need to know Him, the One Who loves them even more than I do, as hard as that may be for me to get my brain around.
Thankfully, they can. Thankfully, they do. Thankfully, you can, too.