The Beauty of Death

It's interesting how someone you've never even met can have such a profound effect on your life.

Her name was Kelsey Bernard. She reached the climax of her life in September of 2009.

Their names were Anna Basso and Micaela White. They reached the climax of their lives in the summer of 2011.

His name was Paul Ledet. He reached the climax of his life in October of 2012.

Philippians 1:21 says, "For to me, life is Christ, and death is gain." Life is Christ and death is gain. If this life is all about Jesus, and our ultimate goal is to become one with Him, then is not death the greatest and most significant part of our lives? If Christ is our everything, is not death better than anything? As strange as it sounds, death is truly the climax of life.

Saint Therese of Lisieux once said, "Angels do not remain on this earth; when they have accomplished their mission, they return instantly to Heaven. That is why they have wings." In 2009, Kelsey gained her wings. In 2011, Anna and Micaela gained their wings. And just this month, Paul gained his. What we must realize is that it is only HUMAN to miss them. Why do we long for their faces, long to hear their voices? We are only human. Why do we cling to every memory or picture we have of them? We are only human. Why do we feel as if we cannot move on without them? We are only human.

I did not know any one of these four angels personally. However, they have each made a lasting impact on my life. They have helped to shape me and form me, making me the person I am today.

Kelsey went to the same dance studio as my best friend Lexi. They danced together for many years, and Lexi has mentioned time and time again that Kelsey was such a role model in both her dancing and the way she lived her life. In September 2009, Kelsey died in a car accident. Anna Basso went to a high school near my home, and Micaela White went to my own high school. They had been best friends their whole lives, and both were a grade above me. During the summer of 2011, within just a few months of each other, they both lost their lives to cancer. Paul Ledet went to the same summer camp, Sky Ranch, that I have been going to for seven years now. He went to camp this past summer just the week before I did, and many of my past camp friends knew him very well. This month, Paul and a few of his family members died in a plane crash.

Looking at pictures or watching videos of these four beautiful angels instantly brings tears to my eyes. It causes me to wonder, If there's really a God, how could He let this happen? If God is all-loving and all-powerful, if He is truly our Savior, why doesn't He save His suffering children with His love?

It is only human to question in this manner. It is only human to feel angry, confused, depressed, or lost.

But here is my challenge to you: begin to see the beauty of death.

Looking back on my life thus far, I have found that the times in which I have experienced the most happiness were the times when I was with Jesus.

It was a warm summer's night, and I was sitting on the porch of Cabin 27 at Sky Ranch Christian Camp with my counselor Krista Pirtle. It was pitch black outside, except for the light near the door of the cabin. Krista said these words to me, "You see that light? There's something different about that light. Every other part of this porch is covered in darkness, but that light right there...that light makes all the difference. I need you to be that light, Haley. Be that light for Christ. Shine for Him in all that you do. For 'you are the light of the world, a city on a hill cannot be hidden' (Matthew 5:14)."

It was a cool fall afternoon, and I was sitting in my backyard talking to my cousin Frankie on the phone. After telling Frankie about something amazing that the Lord had done in my life that week, Frankie proceeded to tell me about very specific times in his life, which he once assumed to be just coincidences, but which he now realizes are very clear signs of the existence of God. I, in turn, proceeded to tell Frankie how I had been praying for the development of his faith for many weeks now, praying that he may see the presence of God all around him. And the Lord enabled him to do just that in this moment. He began to see God in ways he never had before.

It was a bright spring morning, and I was standing before my 200 classmates at our junior class retreat. I spent the next 15-20 minutes giving the first real speech I had ever given. I told them all about the ways in which the Lord has redeemed my life. I told them about the key that I wear to symbolize that God is the key to life, and how God gave me that key Himself. With the brightest of smiles on my face, I said the following words: "Always remember that God is the key to life, the key to freedom. He is the only key that can truly set us free. The struggles of this world may put us in chains, but God gives us the freedom we've been waiting for."

These three events are some of the most significant events of my life. Interesting how all three of these events revolve around Jesus, isn't it? "For to me, life is Christ, and death is gain." Because of the ways in which Jesus has taken me out of my darkness and redeemed my life, I have made my life all about His grace. My life is Christ. And to me, death is gain. I am being completely 100% honest and not exaggerating at all when I say that I would be more than happy to reach the climax of my life right now. If death means being with Jesus, then I am not afraid of death in the slightest sense. If the sheer JOY these three events have brought me were just mere tastes of what Heaven is like, then I want more of Heaven. I want more of You, Jesus.

If death and, in turn, Heaven are the climax of life, then why be afraid of death? If our lives are all about Christ, why be afraid of the moment when we are FINALLY free from the chains of this world and we are finally made ONE with Him? I cannot imagine a more important moment of life than the moment when we finally see Him face-to-face, when we look into His eyes and realize, we are finally home. We are finally free.

Death is a beautiful thing because there's nothing on this earth - no person, no place, no thing - that could ever possibly be more beautiful than the face of Jesus Christ Himself.

So that being said...here's my next challenge to you: if DEATH is GAIN, and LIFE is CHRIST, then that is exactly how you need to be living your life. Your life must be Christ. Last week I mentioned my dear friend who is now in rehab due to his drug addiction. For this friend of mine, drugs are his everything. For me, Christ is my everything. Let Christ become your everything. Let the beauty of His face be the beauty you see in each individual, and let the beauty of our final embrace with Him 
be what leads you to see the great beauty that lies in death.


Let these four angels guide you & remind you that "Life is Christ, and death is gain."

Paul Ledet

Anna Basso & Micaela White

Kelsey Bernard

Song of the week: "Before the Morning" by Josh Wilson

Comments

  1. I knew Paul Ledet. One of the good guys. Sadly his and his brothers death will probably be attributed to pilot error and his dad was the pilot. Your blog is interesting and reminded me of this verse:

    “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
    —John 15:5

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