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Reflections of a flawed man


I've seen many people die recently. Deaths don't all affect me the same way. Any and all deaths are tragic, but I have to admit that I am devastated more by the loss of a child, for example, than someone who was blessed long enough to see old age. I've been processing and reflecting on these deaths and the conversations surrounding them.


I get asked a lot of questions and I always try to provide an answer if there is an answer to give. There are many things, though, that I can’t explain. There are many questions that I can’t answer. There are many things that I still need to learn and there are many more things that I will never know.


Some examples:


Why has God given a man as flawed and as broken as me the privilege and responsibility of serving people during some of the most intimate, painful, beautiful, life-defining and/or final moments of their entire lives?


Why do I see so many people die alone, with no friends or family there to say goodbye?


Why does one of the things that my country leads more than any other have to be the number of mass shootings and the number of children shot and killed in schools?


Why did God allow men to enact the horrors and evils that we see all throughout human history, especially the times when men justified such atrocities using His holy name?


Why do I see terrible things happen to good people and at the same time see the rich and powerful get away with the most heinous and disgusting transgressions against goodness and decency?


Why do I see so much hatred and bloodshed between the three major world religions, including my own, that are all trying to follow and worship the one true God, the God who is goodness and love, the God of Adam and Abraham?


I don’t know. I may never know, but I do know one thing.

This world would be more beautiful, more loving, more harmonious and infinitely more good and pure if men were just a fraction of a fraction more like the example set by Jesus Christ.


For anyone who is uncertain or undecided about Jesus, I ask you to pause a moment and see if you can think of one thing Jesus taught that you believe is a bad thing or something that would make this world a worse place instead of a better one.


Can we feed and house too many people in need? Can we care for too many widows and orphans? Can we have too much justice for the marginalized and oppressed? Can we forgive too many enemies or love our neighbors too much? Can we have too much love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control?


In all of human history, has there ever been a single act of evil that occurred because a man was following and obeying Jesus Christ too much? I can think of a thousand examples where men did terrible, evil things in the name of God, but not a single one that was taught or that would be condoned by Jesus Christ. In truth, the reality is exactly the opposite.


God didn’t become a man because men are special or good or inherently deserve to be saved. We were made from dust and to dust we shall return, and we are sinful, disobedient dust to boot.


God became a man because God is special and God is good and because in his goodness God decided to save us. God became a man and set the example of how men are meant to live, and that example is the man Jesus Christ. What a beautiful world this will be when all men are less like ourselves and more like God!


I don’t have all the answers, but I know the only answer to the one question that matters most. He is my Lord, my Savior, and my God. He is coming back to set all things right. He is coming back to be with you and me. He is coming back to judge the hearts of all men and when he does he will ask one simple question.


Did we live our lives for ourselves because of what we could do, or did we, even in the very last moment, decide to live our lives for God and for others because of what God has done for us?


I know, or at least I think I know, that many of the people I've seen die recently were my brothers and sisters in Christ and the Good Shepherd has called his sheep back home. This is beautiful, even when the joy and hope we have in Christ doesn't take away the pain of our grief.


The others I do not know how they will respond to Jesus, and that's okay. The only reason I should ever know something as intimate as someone's personal relationship with God is because they want me to know and want to talk to me about it. If they don't, that is their God-given right and I respect that. I will love them and serve them nonetheless.


I do know how I will respond. I will respond with fear, gratitude, and joy. I will kneel on the ground before the power, majesty and glory of the Lord my God and I will say “Thank you, Lord, for loving sinful men and for saving a man who was as lost and as wretched as me.”


When Heaven and Earth are reunited and God returns to forever dwell among his chosen people, I will see the countless multitudes of men from every tribe and every nation who all turned away from the darkness in all of our hearts and surrendered their lives to the light of God. Many of the people I've recently seen die will be there too, reunited with family and friends.


Even though I only knew these people for a brief time at the hospital, they were all people I would have liked to know more and people whose stories I wish I had more time to hear. I'll just have to wait (that seems to be a recurring theme in my walk with Christ). Keep walking just a little while longer, then I'll have all of eternity to get to know them and make beautiful new stories together.


Writing this helped me process the emotions these deaths have been stirring inside me. If you've made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and reflections. I pray God's blessing upon you and your loved ones in all that you do.


-Paul

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