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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Out of the Two comes One: Part Thirteen

It wasn’t my first time dealing with death and it would not be my last. 

The first time happened when I, as a newly ordained minister, and was sent to do a hospital visitation. The plan was that I go and visit with an elderly church member and pray with and for her—but when I arrived, I was directed by hospital staff to the basement because my parishioner was downstairs “donating.” 

My first time as a cop was a trip to the morgue. In this room known as the fridge, which was the size of a small apartment, had bodies stacked like cord-wood along three of the four walls from the floor to just shy of the ceiling. This was to be my first autopsy.

While working the streets, I have seen many more bodies in death since those early first days; some a result of violent confrontations, some due to natural causes, and others at their own hands.  The common denominator? They were all dead.  

As a cop, I had to be distant…hold myself back so I could study the event from an objective perspective. As a minister, I have to get close; I need to lower my walls so that I can help the church member get through the difficulty of their time of loss. 

So whether as a cop or a preacher death has often crossed my path. In one vein, I follow the directive of the state and city codebook; while with the other I follow the leading of scripture and the Spirit of God.

The point? We all die—the good guys, bad guys, and the indifferent. So if we all have to die, the question really becomes not how we shall expire, but rather, how shall we live. Think about it….Just saying.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

For what are you willing to die?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated that any man who does not have something for which he is willing to die is not fit to live. On face value it comes across as a rather provocative statement, but on closer observation, it is perhaps more so.  Think about it.

Ask yourself, for what are you willing to die? Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Rome, said “…scarcely for a righteous man will one die: peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.”  We couple that with the example of the Japanese fighter pilots that committed themselves to death in the attack on Pearl Harbor; and even the contemporary example of the jihadist that crashed planes on 9-11 and explode bombs in public markets around the world.

However, the question remains, For what are you willing to die? 

As a writer, I explore many concepts and ideas as a regular course of thinking, but when pressed to ask myself what reaches that highest point of self-sacrifice, I too am brought up short and forced to examine what I hold most sacred. Of course, I say like most of my readers, I would die for my wife and children, my mother and siblings, but for the most part these are unasked…or at least un-required offerings. What becomes a more pertinent question, and what I believe to be at the core of Dr. King’s question, rather is, For what am I willing to live? 

What is it that gives your life purpose and cause? What identifies you and will long after you have passed off the scene call to remembrance that you were even here? So my challenge to you is not that you die valiantly, but rather that you live on purpose and with cause. Live each day in such a way that those around you are made better, and in spite of hard times experienced, joy will be the lingering fragrance of your time shared. 

For what do you have to live? Think about it.