“No, I am not afraid to die—it’s every breath that comes before.”
The Oh Hellos
I do not know when or where I’ll take my last breath. But I do know where I’ll be after I draw that last breath. My last breath on earth will be my first breath in heaven.
This is why I am not afraid to die. When I die I will be safer than I’ve ever been, the most unafraid I’ve ever been. I’m not afraid to die. I’m afraid to live.
I am afraid to admit that I am afraid. I am afraid to admit that though I walk on the seas of grace, I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in the storms of life. These storms differ in category, but not in effect. They are altogether too strong for me, flooding my thoughts with fear.
I recognize the folly of these fears. Fear promises protection, but delivers paralysis. It promises discernment, but delivers disappointment. I am afraid, so I fail. And I fail, so I am afraid.
I am afraid that I will be a failure. Actually, I am afraid, that I already am. I am afraid that I have been unable to accomplish much of the things I anticipated I would accomplish at this stage of my life.
I am afraid that I may never overcome my besetting sin. I am afraid that I will fail to overcome my sin within the next ten years, just as I’ve failed to overcome it over the last ten years.
I am afraid, so afraid of marriage. I am not necessarily afraid of rejection. I am afraid of acceptance. I am afraid that whomever I marry, may in the end, be just as heart-broken and regretful as my mother is over my father. I am afraid that like my father and his father before him, I too will be a poor husband and an absentee father, too afraid of the future to be present.
I am just as afraid that I may never marry. Though, I am content in my singleness, I admit that I am afraid that I may never receive the opportunity to love a wife and son the way my father should have loved my mother and me—the way Christ loves His Church, the way God loves His children.
I know where I’ll be after I draw my last breath. I do not know, however, where I’ll be before I draw that last breath. So I bind myself with fear, restrict myself from faith, and sink into an ocean of doubt.
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-31)
My deepest fears reveal my shallow faith. Though I have faith in Jesus Christ, though I believe that he gave his life as a ransom for mine, though I trust that he bore my sins on a cross and resurrected for my justification, though I believe that in him, while, I will one day breathe my last, I will surely yet breathe again, though like Peter, I walk on the seas of grace; I still doubt Him. My fears are forceful because my faith is weak.
Too often I forget, like Peter, that my Lord is in control of my life. It is him who leads me to this sea of grace. It is him who controls the boat, the seas, the winds, and the storms. It is Jesus who controls my last breath—and every breath before and after.
These storms may be too strong for me, but they are not too strong for Jesus. And though I am afraid, though storms rage toward me, I have faith, however little, that my Lord will reach out to save me.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10