Momma, does it hurt to die?
Yes, baby, I think it probably does.
Because anytime something in us dies, we hurt.
Why do we have to die?
Because our flesh is the one thing that is keeping us from living with God, face to face.
But I don’t want to die, mommy. I don’t want to hurt.
I know baby. I know. But you will grow in your understanding, and one day your tears won’t taste so sad…
I cradled her in my arms as tears enveloped her tender cheeks. I understand her question. It is one that caught my attention when I was her age. It has kept me wondering ever since.
We are having a lot of these discussions lately. Heart talks. Talks about the indwelling presence of God within our flesh. It has taken on greater meaning for my five-year-old daughter because two weeks ago, she asked Jesus into her heart. On Good Friday. A perfect day for such a sacred embrace.
We knelt beside my bed where she offered her Creator the greatest summons of her heart. An invitation for him to come and to take up residency within her fragile frame. A decision that will profoundly affect the rest of her days.
Some would say that she is too young…too limited in her understanding to make such an important decision. I would say that her tender youth is the perfect beginning for her understanding of all things sacred. Her mind and her heart are fertile soil for her Father’s tilling, and the seeds that are sown in this season, will grow into full bloom in a season yet to come.
I cannot deny my daughter the gift of her salvation…no matter what others might reason. My God is an unreasonable God. An unfathomable, mysterious, yet attainable Savior, made available to all…especially to those whose faith is simple and is not yet overly tainted by carnal perspective.
So when these questions come up…questions about life and death and the surrender that exists between the two, I tell my daughter what I know to be true. Truths like…
This life is but a breath. God has determined her days. (Psalm 39:4-5).
Every step in her journey of faith will be filled with moments of surrender. Times when she will experience the pain of the “letting go” of her flesh so that she can fully live as her Father intended for her to live. (Romans 8:12-18).
Following Christ means embracing the cross, and the cross always requires a difficult obedience. (Matthew 16:24-26).
The sting of death has been swallowed up through the salve of Calvary’s victory. (1 Corinthians 15:50-54).
The One who awaits her on the other side of her surrender will be worth her every tear. (Philippians 3:7-11).
When her time on this earth is over, she will not walk her final steps alone. Her Father will come and usher her feet into her “next.” A “next” prepared for her by the nail-scarred hands of her Groom. (John 14:1-4).
Her tears are meant for this side of eternity, and her Father holds the Kleenex for her final cry of surrender. (Revelation 7:17; 20:4).
Truths like that. Not made up answers to soothe a daughter’s fears, but real truth as contained within God’s Word. And God’s Word is always true and will be the guiding light to grow her in her understanding of the Savior who now abides within her heart.
The truth is…death hurts for all of us. Until we surrender our last bit of flesh to its embrace, we never really live as our Father intends for us to live. And our God means for us to live. Abundantly. Fearlessly. Faithfully, and thoroughly. Within the boundaries of his abiding grace.
When I was my daughter’s age, I, too, began my walk of grace. Over the years, I have grown in my understanding of its mystery. I have needed its depth. Long and wide and high and deep. Indeed, God’s arms of grace have extended beyond the reach of Calvary to embrace me in seasons when my tears of surrender nearly drowned out my resolve for the process.
His arms still reach, and when I come to my moments of a deeper submission—moments of a difficult dying—like my daughter, I bring my tears to my Daddy and ask him this question.
Why do I have to die? Why does it hurt so much to die?
Like I did with my daughter, my Father cradles me in his love and whispers his truth into my painful why’s.
I know child. I know you have questions, and I know you hurt. But you will grow in your understanding of all things sacred, and one day soon, your tears won’t taste so sad.
I don’t want to be sad about my surrenders. I don’t want my daughter to cry about the envisioned pain she is soon to encounter. But I am sad and she does cry, and through our tears our Father’s cradling words are salve enough to soothe our dying aches. For he is well familiar with the dying process. It is what he came to do. To model for us a death’s embrace and to rise victoriously over its hellish sting. He did, and so we can. Thus, I pray…
Father, you have conquered the sting of death, and while I don’t wish for its embrace, I willingly accept its grip because I know that it is bringing me one step closer to complete intimacy with you…heart to heart…face to face. For all of the “deaths” that are required of me in the flesh, they are nothing compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing You. They are life. They are gain. Keep me to my surrendered cross, and keep me to your truth so that I am equipped to lead others to do the same. Especially one little girl who needs to grow in her understanding of all things sacred, and one big girl who needs to follow her lead. Amen.