Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 In union with Christ you were circumcised, not with the circumcision that is made by human beings, but with the circumcision made by Christ, which consists of being freed from the power of this sinful self. 12 For when you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and in baptism you were also raised with Christ through your faith in the active power of God, who raised him from death. 13 You were at one time spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were Gentiles without the Law. But God has now brought you to life with Christ. God forgave us all our sins; Colossians 2:11-13 (TEV)
1035 Do not fear death. Death is your friend! Try to get used to the fact of death: peer into your grave often, looking at and smelling, and touching your own rotting corpse there, a week, no more, after your death. Remember this especially when you are troubled by the impulses of the flesh. (1)
Twice on this day, February 26th, I have faced death and found life.
The second time was in 1998, as I lay on a gurney in West Hills, California. I was about to have surgery to replace two heart valves, damaged by a genetic connective tissue disorder. The surgery was supposed to last 4 hours, and was very risky. The surgeon explained it was as challenging as sewing two wet pieces of toilet paper together. He would later ask me how many people were praying, not that he believed in it, but that the surgery was so easy.
That ended an anxiety I had struggled with since childhood, the threat of death because of the genetic issues. Yes, there are still heart issues, yes, I am still on medicine and undergo tests. But the threat of aortic dissection is minimal. For six years prior to the surgery, I had been concerned – with the heart issues had already tried to kill me once, causing a cardiac arrest.
Life changed a little that time I faced death. There was a new freedom, a new life. Yes, it had restrictions and changes, but it was also free of my fears about death that was…. I can’t even explain how overwhelming it could be.
It had even more the other time, thirty-three years before that. I was only a few weeks old and at a church. I faced a different form of death, one with the promise far greater, in fact; that was the reason I had to face death, in order to gain the promise.
On February 26, in the year of our Lord 1965, I was baptized. As the passage above discusses, in baptism we die. ( Romans 6:1-8, Titus 3, my favorite, Ezekiel 36:25-27 and 37:1-12 speak of this as well) It is there, in our baptism, that we die with Christ. It is there as well, that we are quickened, that we come alive in faith. That we enter a relationship that is amazing, with God.
The picture of baptism and being united with Christ’s death and resurrection, is not just symbolism. It is not just an act of our obedience. It is God at work. It is a promise God has made, to all those who believe in Him. It is how He brings us through Christ’s death and resurrection that enables us to be freed from our sin, and the debt it causes. It is a wonderful, miraculous promise of eternity, a promise God is willing to sign, to guarantee, to stake His name to, that we would know His love.
His promise, given to us in a Covenant, a Testament, an unbreakable contract. His work, cleansing us,
This time, facing death has eternal implications. It enables us to look death in the face, and not be afraid. To realize the glory of God, which He desires to share with us, will be our eternity. For something awaits us, which scripture describes this way.
1 You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. 2 Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 Your real life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory! Colossians 3:1-4 (TEV)
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3664-3668). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.