Of Death, and LifeMarch 4, 2016
The smaller the world becomes, the more people we know and the longer we live, the greater our awareness of death.
We have witnessed executions on foreign sands. We have seen the small lifeless body of a boy on a beach. We felt the national loss of a Supreme Court Justice. Closer to home, two weeks ago my husband’s best friend called with news that his 25 year old son had overdosed. Last week a 46 year old medical missionary in Togo, West Africa died of an infection leaving four minor boys and my cousin Jenny, a widow. And last night, Presbyterian Lay Committee board member, life-long U.S. Civil servant, Ray Jones, departed this life.
For each and for all, death comes.
Death comes at the wrong time no matter when death comes.
For some death comes in the middle of lyric, in the middle of a laugh, in the middle of a life.
For others death comes as a welcome relief from pain or loneliness or grief.
For those who remain on this side of death’s divide, death always comes as a thief, robbing us of what might have been.
In the end, this holds true: ready or not, death comes.
So, with that said, are we living as those prepared to die? Do we, with the apostle Paul, sincerely believe that to live is Christ and to die is gain? Are we as equally certain of the life to come as we are as the breath last drawn?
My cousin Jennifer and her husband Todd Dekryger have been serving as missionaries in Mango, Togo in West Africa for more than 10 years. They pour out their lives every day that others might know the love of God and the Savior, Jesus Christ. Last week, Jenny posted this:
The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! John 4:36
Today, Jesus called Todd home from the work he was doing planting and harvesting in Togo. In the mystery of His will, God chose this day to reward Todd with the unequaled joy of heaven. This is the promise of God that we as believers cling to through tears and pain. Todd poured out his life as an offering to God in Togo. I know that Todd would similarly encourage us who remain here for a little while longer to also be faithful in our service to our King (Philippians 2:17).
Please continue praying and ask Jesus to bring comfort to William, Grant, Luke, and Drew. Ask that His Spirit would provide peace that is beyond the knowledge of this world. Keep praying that the boys grow strong in their knowledge of God’s Word so they can live out the legacy that their father has given to them. Also, pray that our Father in heaven would send more workers like Todd to the beautiful fields of Togo where the harvest is so great!
My heart is overwhelmed with unspeakable grief – for myself, our boys, our extended family, our spiritual family and the Hospital of Hope team. I cling only to the gospel and the certain hope of our salvation through Jesus Christ. I long for the men, women and children of Togo to know the Savior that Todd served so faithfully. Even in my pain, I am confident that oursacrifice – that Todd’s sacrifice – was worth it. I believe that the great commission is a cause worth dying for. And in the midst of my grief, I fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.
The outpouring of prayers and support in recent days has been overwhelming. And I can’t begin to thank all those who have shown kindness to our family. There are many decisions to be made and I will update you again in the days to come. Please be patient as I will not be able to respond to every call, message or e-mail personally. Thanks for standing with us through this time.
In Christ Alone we find our strength, The DeKryger family
Outside of Christ it is impossible to even understand the language this young widow speaks. Without Christ it is impossible to comprehend the victory over death expressed. But when Jenny signs off “In Christ,” she means it. She is in Christ, her life is hidden in him, her hope is found in him, and in him she takes refuge even in the face of death.
Indeed, death comes, but those in Christ know that in Him comes life, again.
As we approach Holy Week and Easter we have the opportunity to talk with others about the reality of death and the grace offered in the resurrection of Jesus to newness of life. How might you bring God into a conversation with someone else about death, and life? I’d love to hear your reflections in the comment section below. – Carmen