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From Death to Life

This weekend has thrown everything in my face that could possibly be thrown in my face. My face is literally covered with crap (okay, not literally, sick). 

Saturday, I experienced death.

Since moving to Goldsboro, I was a little lonely. I know I’ve complained about that too much. I adopted a cat last month to battle some of that loneliness. I hate cats. I think they are pretty annoying and moody and needy and weird. BUT, my landlord didn’t allow pets and I figured a dog would be more noticeable. So a cat was my only option. I went to the shelter and met a five year old calico cat. She had been there longer than any of the other cats. And get this, she hated cats! We were perfect for each other. I adopted her, and the rest was history!

I brought her home and she quickly took control of my apartment, which was fine with me. I fell in love with this lady-cat in just a few weeks.

But then she got sick.

After a few days of her sick behavior, I decided to take her to the vet. A dear friend of mine came down to go with me, because I was too afraid to go alone. The veterinarian did a physical exam and discovered that she had two large masses in her retinas. He said he was 99% sure it was malignant melanoma (cancer) and that there was a good chance it had spread throughout her body. He informed me that I could do blood tests and x-rays to determine if it had spread, but that her eyes could not be saved regardless. Either way, she was going to suffer for the rest of her life, which probably wouldn’t be much longer. Needless to say, I was devastated.

I took her back home, called the shelter, and they said to bring her in. This shelter was in Raleigh, so me and my friend decided to make a weekend trip out of it. I surrendered my beautiful, precious cat to the shelter on Saturday, knowing that her fate would be death. I couldn’t stop crying because I knew that for the short time she was going to be in the shelter, she was going to feel completely abandoned by me. That hurt me so badly. And then I was mad at myself for getting upset over a cat, because I don’t even like cats!

After leaving my love behind, I was falling into a slight depression. The pain of leaving behind something to die, willingly abandoning it, is unmeasurable. Even if it is a dang cat. 

 

But today, I experienced life.

I didn’t think any good would come from my weekend. I had made plans to go to Summit Church’s “#churchattheballpark” at the Durham Bulls Baseball stadium, and my friend agreed to come with me. So, Sunday morning, I find myself sitting in standstill traffic on the highway so that I can go to church on a baseball field. I don’t think a lot of people can say that!

We are in the church service, and towards the end, the pastor invites people to accept Christ and get baptized. My friend who was with me had done neither in her lifetime, and I knew that. We had several conversations throughout our friendship about the Gospel, and she had been studying the Word for the past few months. I noticed how intently she was paying attention during the service, and as soon as he announced the invitation to get baptized, she stood up. She stood up. My friend grabbed my arm and said, “I want to go, and I want you to go with me.” DUH, HELLO?!

I walked down with her and watched her boldly go speak to the baptism counselors, and then she was baptized. I was in awe of God this morning. I got to see my friend come from death to life. I got to see her give her life to Christ, publicly. It was a beautiful experience.

 

There are no coincidences.

I was reminded of the Gospel when I left my cat in that shelter, oddly enough. I couldn’t help but think about how much it pained God to leave Jesus at the cross. To abandon Him, to leave Him to die. At the hands of other people! God loved His Son. God is love. How hard would it be for the Lord of all, the Giver of all things, to turn His back on His child. 

And because God turned His back, because Jesus died for mankind, there is life. His death brings us life. 

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 6:23]

We were dead, completely dead. God has offered us the free, wonderful, ultimate gift of eternal life, all because He turned His back on Jesus and let Him die.

This is what happened to my friend this weekend. God turned His back on Jesus so that my friend could live. If my cat did not get sick, if I didn’t have to take my cat to the shelter to be put down, there’s a good chance that my friend would have never experienced what she did this weekend at church.

I loved my cat, so much. It pains me greatly to know that I turned my back on her and abandoned her, even though I know it’s for the best. But knowing that my friend will spend eternity in Heaven with Christ because of it, well, I can praise God for that.

 

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3 thoughts on “From Death to Life”

  1. Okay, so you asked for a rebuttal. My little pelagian mind is swimming, trying to find a way to approach this. Let me start with, I don’t disagree completely. One event, the death of your cat, clearly opened a door for your friend’s baptism. I’m not fond of leaving things up to coincidence either. Coincidence suggests chaos, in a universe that is so clearly structured. That’s not saying that this is no chaos. I think you and I can attest to the fact that chaos exists all around us. Because of this, I do think sometimes things just happen. There is no why, no extra underlying explanation. Of course, we could deconstruct the whole of every action of every person involved in a given situation, and eventually find a place where we could explain exactly why and how and who and where and for what “purpose” all things originate, but honestly that’s impossible. So yes, your friend was there for a reason. The reason though, was not to get baptized. The reason was to help you cope with the loss of your pet, because that’s the kind of thing that friends do. I do believe God “directs” people to other people. The true friends in our lives are undoubtedly directed there by God, but not by destiny. In the end, there are still choices being made. Your friendship is probably part of the reason that your friends heart became open to the idea of joining the Christian family, but the decision to go to church on a ball field and accept Christ ultimately had to be her’s (I’m guessing her, I don’t think you used a gender specific pronoun). It’s essential that salvation be a choice. Not a dictation from the Almighty. As I said in our recent Theology on Tap discussion, I believe God does stuff, actively communing with all of creation. So yes, timing was perfect, doors were open, the stage was set, and things went as “planned.” (I don’t detest the idea of God’s plan. I’m sure the Creator has a plan. It’s the idea that all things go according to plan that I strongly disagree with. In the end, I don’t think God’s plan today looks like God’s plan did yesterday) I’m going to stop talking inside those parentheses, but keep talking about the same idea. I have a plan or a will for my son, as I’m sure my parents did for my sisters and I. We may not have fully known their will, (i.e. where they wanted us to live, who they wanted us to marry, what kind of job they wanted us to do) but we had a general idea. Such is true with God. We have a general idea of God’s will, or God’s plan. Too often we deviate from it, as you are well aware I have from my parent’s plan, and you don’t even know them. Which means, God’s plan has to change. It’s necessary, especially when it comes to those who have entered into the Kingdom of God. Thus, bringing me to the debate that was so fun for us when speaking the other night. In order for God to change God’s plan (or will) it would not be accurate to say that God knows exactly what choice we will make. Otherwise, the original plan would be a fluke. All of that being said, praise be to God that you were there to help escort your friend into a new life with Christ, just as I thank God daily, that you have played an undoubted role in my spiritual reawakening. Also, the analogy of you leave the cat to die and God leaving Jesus to die was pretty top notch. I live it. You’re brilliant. Keep writing.

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