“For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” ~Jeremiah 29:11
As I sit in yet another hospital room in the past couple of months, this time with a different child of ours, I ponder the will to live. The variables are different for most, but I believe the reasons to this paradoxical anomaly are summed up in one word, love. It is God’s love for us, the love that is in us, and that love that drives us to want to love life more, love ourselves better, and/or love others when we defy death. Love gives, and because it does so, it begs the question, “So, why do I live?” to which the answer is because love has purpose and hope, therefore, you have a purpose and hope in this moment, in this time, in this life.
Recently, I preached at a Soup Kitchen and shared my “brushes with death,” not for any other reason, but to remind others that they were not alone in their brushes with death, and remain alive today for a purpose.
Right now, you live on purpose for a purpose.
Our family has had their share of “brushes with death,”and we live to tell about it not in pride, but for a greater purpose – love and hope. But, these “brushes” are reminders to us of the true meaning of life, love. My beloved husband had a traumatic brush with death coming into this world. His mother was told that he would not make it. Born a preemie, he overcame many surgeries and heart issues. When I was younger and mother of our oldest daughter, who was 2 at the time, I was told that I had stage 4 cervical cancer. They gave me 6 months to live. And, while I did not give God His rightful place in my life at the time, I remember going home that night praying for God to please let me live. You see, I had a daughter who was 2 and needed her mommy. Although her daddy and I were separated and then divorced, she became my reason for wanting to live. She was my hope for the future at the time because I wasn’t able to acknowledge the true hope of the future that lived inside of her, God. Again, when our daughter was 4 and we still remain divorced, I dated an addict who wanted to give me a dosage of drugs that took my life. When I awoke from being brought back to life, my 4 year old daughter was staring me in the face. I vowed never to touch a drug again as that was the only short span of my lifetime I had ever done so. My precious daughter compelled me to look within myself and reach for the something more in life that was reflected in her face and heart, love and hope for the future. When I was giving birth to our youngest, I faced death again, our baby’s and 5th child, and my own, during labor. This love of God had tenaciously chased my husband and myself down, remaining a fixed presence in our lives. This love is what gives us purpose in life, and soon this death-defying truth and presence would become real in our children’s lives.
Our dearly beloved 5 year old son was diagnosed with a brain tumor the doctors found that resulted from a seizure he had a couple of months ago. I cannot even begin to make one understand the fight in him to want to live. We called a family meeting upon the news of his brain tumor and he was encouraging us by saying, “Don’t be afraid. The doctor is going to go in and take this thing out of my head. I will be OK. We will be OK.” We were all drawing from his amazing strength, faith, love, and hope in life in the midst of bleak circumstances. As the days of his brain surgery approached, he would sense uneasiness in each of us, and comfort us. There was one time that I had been grief-stricken after learning of his brain tumor, and he said, “Don’t give me that sad face! I love you!” On another occasion, I told him he was going to be OK. He replied, “I know I am because God is going to save me.” I said, “Yes, He is. Why do you think God is going to save you?” to which he responded, “Because God loves me and I’m special to Him.” And, due to his brush with death, his zeal for life and God is infectious. Why? It is because the surrender to God’s over-powering love drives us to our purpose in life.
This is not to say that if someone is not saved from a death-defying experience that they are not special. We are all special. We are all created by a living, loving, almighty Creator and God. It’s the recognizing that life is found in love; the acceptance and love of God that compels us to love and accepts ourselves and others.
Two days ago our 19 year old daughter, AJ, would face her “brush with death” with her will to live, love. I sit bedside in her hospital room recounting the past couple of days, the progress, and the days ahead. A precious daughter and beautiful young woman, intent on embracing life by reaching for the stars of hope, purpose, faith, love, and perseverance that God has so graciously and clearly set within her grasp. She lies in a hospital bed, overcoming a traumatic rollover car wreck that by science and man’s standards, should have taken her life. Through multiple conversations over the past couple of days, she takes me back with her to her “brush with death.” She recounts, “I heard the paramedics talking about how they were going to get me out, and I struggled and fought to pull myself out even though they were telling me not to move. When I got out, I looked at my hand and thought, ‘It looks bad, but I can move my fingers and feel.’ I felt a cut on my forehead and thought, ‘I see and feel a lot of blood, but I don’t feel dizzy.’ I knew then that I was going to be OK, I was going to live.” As doctors come in and out, she kindly and firmly demands to know all of what is going on with her; don’t sugarcoat it. She wants to know where she stands and what she has to overcome so that she can live. At one point she admitted in awestruck fear, “I could have died. I should have died, but I live!” She is reflective and resolute in her “brush with death” and her will to live. She has some insurmountable odds that she is determined to achieve, but the gift of her life will continue to positively ripple and give life unto others. For in my own death-defying experiences, God used and continues to use her to show me and countless others, the true meaning of life, love.
Our variables with death-defying experiences may differ, but God’s tenacious love that chases after us remains the same. Love gives. And, when you truly receive this gift of love, that is truly the gift of life, you can then pour it out into a world that lacks love and hope. Herein lies the greater purpose. Herein lies the promise of hope and a future where love came down, clothed Himself in flesh, and walked among us as an example of how to receive that we may love God, ourselves, and others.