[Willow Creek Association] 1998-10-21 - There is a Plan

(Rom 6:4 NIV) "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."

I am staring at the computer screen and it's staring back at me. The page is so stark and white. My mind is racing with thoughts. My heart is pouring out to God questions, demanding answers, wanting peace and wanting it now. I just want to think out loud with you folks tonight. Forgive me if I ramble, but I think God wants us to learn something from all this. As I drove home from work, self-absorbed in my own world of craziness, busyness, stressfulness, exhausted from working too hard and too long, I am yelling out to God, "I thought Your Yoke was easy!"

My mom has Parkinson's disease; my dad has some lung disease I can't spell or even begin to pronounce. Mom is looking frail these days and dad has a terrible time just walking up a small flight of stairs. Today for the first time, they both looked old to me. It's a frightening look. Parents aren't supposed to age, are they? They are going to be around forever, aren't they? Lord, help me understand Your plan.

As I walked in the back door tonight, the newspaper was lying on the counter. A ten-year-old girl had been murdered in our small town yesterday. One of my daughters is ten. Then the phone rang. It was my mom calling to tell me that the mother of Jim, my best buddy in the small group of men that I teach, had just died. On the answering machine, was a message from another friend asking for prayer as his mom lies in pain, her body ravaged with cancer. I feel surrounded by death. I don't understand the plan, Lord.

There is a plan, right? "Yes, there is a plan. Here is the plan, David. It's quite simple," I hear the Lord telling me. God made Adam and Eve perfect, and then through them sin entered our world. And our greatest enemy came along, death. Think about it. You can't fight death and win, you can do nothing on your own to overcome death. Oh sure we can prolong life through modern medicine, but we cannot defeat our worst enemy, death. I can take care of some things on my own. I can fight some battles and win, but never can I fight death and win. The last time I looked, life still has a mortality rate of 100%.

1 Corinthians 15:21 (NKJV) For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

2 Timothy 1:10 (NKJV) but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Christ conquers death. Lots of folks talk about being born again, being born twice, and I agree. No doubt about it, when we accept Christ we are born again. We are made anew in Him, but you know what else? We not only get to be born again, but to die only once. One physical death, that's it. People around us without Christ have to die twice, once physically -- and secondly and worst of all -- spiritually. A spiritual separation from God, forever. I think I understand the plan now, Lord.

You sent Your Son Jesus to defeat our worst enemy, death. You sent Him to win the battle for us, so that we may be born twice and yet only die once. So, that we may live forever with You. It's a free gift for the asking; that's the neat part.

My friend's mom that just died was a Christian, my mom and dad are, and my other friend's mom is. I am taking comfort in that. Will they be missed? Certainly! But Praise God they only have to die once! How about your parents, your relatives, your friends, that waitress that serves you coffee every morning, the folks you work with, the people you go to school with, your neighbors, and on and on? Are they going to die once or twice? Do you understand God's plan?

Jesus paid the price. He won the victory. Now it is up to us to share His plan with those around us. Before I hung up the phone tonight with Jim, he told me this story: His mom was fighting death so hard. The doctor told his sister that sometimes people just want "permission" to die. So, when Jim's mom died this morning, the last thing he told her was, "Mom you did all God planned for you to do. You raised three children to be Christians, one which is waiting on you now. You lived a Proverbs 31 life. You impacted others with your faith. You led others to Christ, some of whom are waiting on you, and mom best of all, Jesus Christ is waiting with His outstretched arms, waiting to welcome you home." As he looked down, his mom had gone home, peacefully and without a sound. To her real home, the home that the plan is made for.

Lord, thank You for Your awesome plan. Thank You for your Son Jesus Christ; through Him alone we have victory over our greatest enemy, death. In His precious name, Amen.