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Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith

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#death

Phillip Hughes and my mate Lloyd

Australia lost one of its national cricket stars last week.

For those of you who don’t know much about cricket, it is enough to say that it is one of Australia’s most loved national sports. During a recent game, Phillip Hughes was hit with a cricket ball and never recovered.  He was just days off his 26th birthday.

In the same week, I had a friend die from the effects of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) or ALS to those in the States. As I also have this disease, I met Lloyd and his wife Adele at our local MND support group.  I had the privilege of sharing my faith with him and praying with him to begin a relationship with God just weeks before His death.

I have written blogs about death before, but today I want to focus on those left behind. The ones who sit in funerals, sort through clothing, write eulogies.  I want to encourage you that in life’s most desperate moments that you can acquire a newfound value in life.

Our Prime Minister said this week, “Phillip Hughes’ passing is a reminder that life is both precious and fragile.”

I wonder, if that is true, do we live like it is? When we hear the words “precious and fragile”, many of us reflect on the fact that life in general is precious or fragile or that someone else’s life is fragile and precious.

It’s easy to hear these words without personalising them.

Let me do that for you: You are precious and you are fragile, you are one of a kind, valuable, not worthless.

By fragile, I’m not talking about the resilience of the human spirit, in fact, I am constantly blown away by people’s resilience. I am talking about our earthly body, amazing in complexity and also not infallible.

By precious, I’m not talking about lovely or superficial, I’m talking about rare, one of a kind, and uniquely destined for great things.

I have been to many auctions in my life and I like watching auction shows on TV. It is true that the most fragile and precious articles more often hold the most value.  Even if I wouldn’t buy it, someone else is willing to pay large sums– it’s all in the perspective of the buyer.

If our value is found in what others would give for us then consider this: Jesus gave His life for us. The Bible says, even when we were seemingly worthless, He put worth on us by paying the highest price a friend could pay: His own life. [Romans 5:8]

Have you noticed how people treat things that are precious and fragile? It is with respect, with a sense of awe, wonder and love.

The Bible also teaches us that we are wonderfully made and precious to God, and that we are His treasured possession.

If we would understand our intrinsic value today, it would change the way we treat ourselves and the way we treat others. We would love our neighbour like we were made to.

My challenge to you today is to see yourself as one-of-a-kind, and handle yourself with care. Then, see the people you are doing life with as equally valued, they are precious and fragile too.

Phil

Death, where is your sting?

My mate, Bruce. 27/07/1955 - 11/09/2014
My mate, Bruce. 27/07/1955 – 11/09/2014

On Tuesday, I officiated the funeral of one of my best mates and a fellow pastor, Bruce.

I also closely witnessed his last few weeks on this earth.

What struck me most in those last days was Bruce’s assurance of heaven and eternity. Each time I asked him “how are you in here mate?” pointing to my head, or “how are you in here mate?” pointing to my heart, he would answer “it’s all good buddy!”

And it truly was – he had a tremendous peace and unwavering faith.

I remember sitting there with him contemplating the terminal illness Bruce had and hoping other people I loved didn’t have to face what he was facing. I realise now we all have what he had: mortality.

Most people live this life like it will never end and prepare for the next life like it will never begin, but it comes to all of us whether we prepare or not.

We are all terminal but we are also all eternal.

This life on earth is short so we need to make it count by being present, by loving, being grateful for the little things, and forgiving. Talk to people about what matters, not what is the matter with life.

Bruce taught me that “this side” is so fragile and short and because of that, it is so precious.  Like many valuable things, life’s value is derived from the fact it is in limited supply.

Whether you like to think about it or not, we are all living in temporary accommodation, our skin gets a little more creased and our hair a little more grey or a little less full stop. It’s a confronting reminder that sooner or later, we will all be evicted from our bodies.

The question this raises is, what’s on the other side?

I appreciate that it’s hard for us to imagine the other side.

Some people just decide that there is nothing over there. But you do have to wonder why the rumours of the other side stay so persistent.

And so the human race wonders.

As a Christian, I believe that Jesus Christ has defeated the sting or darkness of death so that we can have real life today and eternal life on “the other side”. I believe that God has made a way for us to be with Him forever through faith in Jesus Christ.

From this side, for us, death can be a time of sorrow, loss and of separation. But from the other side, for people like Bruce, it is a time of release, reunion, rest and reward. It is the beginning of a bright new eternal life.

Heaven is a reality where there is no pain, no tears, and no sorrow. Gone will be the nights filled with terror, fear and violence. Hunger and thirst, not even a memory. Heaven will be a place of endless joy.

A little girl was taking an evening walk with her father.   She looked up at the starry night sky and said, “Oh, Daddy, if the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, what must the right side be like!”

This one’s for you buddy, my mate Bruce, on the other side.

Phil

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