“The Spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of God has given me life.”
– Job 33:4
God has made and given all of creation life and breath. A few of mankind, though (if they’re willing), get to understand this verse from Job in a different way than most; one of those people happens to be me.
Six years ago today, I was “raised from the dead” (at least in a way), as my husband had prayed God would do to his wife if necessary; his prayer was answered two years before we even met. The rest is history.
I wouldn’t have chosen this road for my life. I wouldn’t have chosen to be born with cystic fibrosis, to have to have a double lung transplant at nineteen years of age to continue to live, but that’s what God chose for me. I am more than thankful for the opportunity to proclaim His sovereignty and goodness amidst human suffering. There are times this road He’s chosen for me his harder than others, but everyone has a story — everyone has tough times. My tough times don’t somehow make me “better”; they just happen to come faster, harder, and more often than many around me. Over the years, I’ve just had to come to accept that, to embrace this life God has given to me for His glory. I’ve learned to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).
In the process, this road to which He’s called me as changed the way I view life. It’s hard to feel young and invincible like so many of my peers, including my husband, when I’ve been at death’s door. I don’t fault them for their viewpoint. I’m sure I’d feel the same way in my mid 20s had I not gone through the valley of the shadow of death. When you have, though, it’s hard to return to “life as normal.” Life, at least through the lenses you’re given after such an experience, isn’t normal on the other side, or at least I believe it shouldn’t be. I choose to embrace, though not be enslaved to (there is a difference), this keen awareness of death being a possibility for all of us today, if God should so choose to not keep giving us breath. How foolish of us to think that we somehow are the reason we’re still living.
I didn’t choose to be born with cystic fibrosis, to have to have a double lung transplant at nineteen years in order to keep living on this side of heaven, but it was chosen for me for His glory and a purpose far greater than myself. On my own, I wouldn’t have chosen to live with the fact that I could easily not be able to have my own biological children, that I most likely will not be my husband’s only wife, that my mortality could easily come many years before his, that we may very likely never grow old and grey together like the two other young married couples we just hung out with last night. That’s life, though, or should I say that’s my life. While I tarry on, I must remember this journey which I’ve walked, and will continue to walk, is not about me. It’s about His glory and Him wanting me to make Him more like Him — not necessarily more like what I want to be or giving me 80 years to do all thing things I want to do. I am not the one who gets to decide what month or year comes after the dash on my tombstone. Neither are you with yours, whether you choose to acknowledge that or not.
That feeling can be hard to accept at times, that, unlike William Henley would like us to believe, we’re not the Master of our fate, the Captain of our own soul. I’ve learned to embrace this truth, though, and dwell in the freedom that comes with accepting that my life is not my own, that I was bought with a price and must listen to the Master’s call in order to experience true peace and happiness in this life, no matter its duration or what other earthly peril comes my way.
I challenge you today to do the same — live life not knowing when your tombstone dash will appear but keenly aware of its coming. Don’t be afraid of it, but don’t shy away from the reality of death, either. We all are going to die, but we all will not die well. Live life to the glory of God, abide in Him, and accept the freedom that comes with truly knowing Jesus Christ Don’t think that following a bunch of rules and being a “good person” is going to bring you earthly peace and eternal residence with God the Father.
Truly live, while you still have the chance.