Walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Death Session 3 You in the Valley

 

Walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Death Session 3  Session 3

You in the Shadow of Death

 Psalms 23:4 (NKJV)

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil…

 In our last two teachings, we have looked at what we would prefer to hide our eyes from.  Death.  We have considered spiritual death, eternal separation from God, we have considered the sudden death, and the anticipated death of someone we love.  In this session, we will explore what we are to do when it’s our turn to walk the valley. 

 The inconvenient truth is that we do our best to ignore that one day we will experience death.  In the movie Hook, Captain Hook taunts Peter Pan telling him to “prepare to die,” and Peter says “to die would be a great adventure!”  The way most people live such a statement is false bravado, talking a good game, grim determination, stiff upper lip, and all.  It seems most people fear death so much that we do everything in our culture to hide from death or even the thought of our demise.  “Americans act as if death is optional” (Claudia Rowe). Oh, we may say something like “I want to die in my sleep at home in my bed,” really we don’t want that, we don’t want to die at all, we don’t’ want to consider death, yet die we will.

Death will come for us just like it can for our loved ones, either suddenly or with anticipation. Let’s consider how to prepare for either eventuality.

It can’t be stressed enough, when it is your turn to walk the valley, you will want God with you.  As one who has asked God to accept your faith, having acknowledged that death is an inevitability, believing that Jesus is the only one who can secure eternal life for you, and committing your entire life to be a disciple of Jesus, you can face death fearlessly.  We have great and precious promises in scripture.  The most important preparation for your appointment with death is to be a Christ-follower, to be walking in the light as He is in the light, to be loving God and loving others.  Acknowledge, believe, commit, and ask, you will then be able to allow the Holy Spirit to convince you of these great and precious promises.  To face death fearlessly you need to be confident that those promises are true.

 At the tomb of Lazarus Jesus says to Martha:

John 11:25-26 (MSG)

I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all.

 Why fear death when you will not ultimately die.  To die and be with God is a good thing (Philippians 1:23).  In distant western history, it was considered a reward.  Allow the fearful uncertainty of death is to be swallowed up in faith, hope, and love; knowing that God will never leave you or forsake you.  

 Another great prophecy promise we find in the letter Paul wrote to the congregation in Corinth”

 1 Corinthians 15:53-56 & 17b (MSG)

In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:

 Death swallowed by triumphant Life!  Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who's afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening

 57 But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!

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Death does not have the final word.  The mortal believer is transformed into the immortal believer. Death is the transition, such an expectation of hope trumps fear.  When you anticipate good things about to happen when death comes you tend not to fear it.

 We could spend the rest of our time together just reading scripture that reveals that physical death is not the end. In your notes, posted the live stream, are scripture references are given to dispel your fear of death. 2 Timothy 1:10, Hebrews 2:14-15, Romans 6:15, 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, Romans 8:23, 2 Corinthians 5:4, Isaiah 25:8, Philippians 1:21-25, Revelation 21:4, 2 timothy 4:8. Romans 14:8, 2 Corinthians 5:8, and 2 Corinthians 5:1-2.

 Before you die, make sure that these scriptures are part of your destiny.  Be walking with God.  We call it eternal life.  Then when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death you will fear no evil…

There are things in this world to take care of before you die.  There are medical and legal issues that the bible doesn’t address.  Medically, have an advance directive.  An advance directive alerts the medical professionals of the treatments you want and the treatments you refuse. It will save your loved ones from making impossible decisions.  There will be a web address to get a California advance directive on our Facebook page and our website, you can google the same for your state.  Download it, read it, have that difficult conversation with loved ones, fill it out, and then, get it filed. [https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/consumers/ProbateCodeAdvancedHealthCareDirectiveForm-fillable.pdf ]

 Legally there are some important things to get arranged.  One, make sure your life insurance, your retirement savings, your bank account is all readily available to your loved ones.  You can accomplish this through a Will.  A will is legal guidance regarding the care of minor children and the distribution of your assets.  If you don’t have a will, guess who gets to decide what happens to your estate?  A probate court and that is going to cost your survivors legal fees.  A better way to make sure your estate goes where you want it is the use of a Living Trust which grants the power and responsibility to take care of business if and when you can not to the person you designate. The living trust allows assets to be transferred to your beneficiaries much easier, like those you designate to become your legal representative.

 Life insurance is always a good idea.  But this has to be done before a diagnosis is made.  Get right on this.  Don’t talk to a life insurance agent; they want to sell you something.  Some websites can help you calculate how much life insurance you need.  If the site wants all your personal information, don’t fall for that because then companies will stalk you.  The general rule of thumb is 10 times your yearly income, plus 100,000 per child, plus paying off debt including a mortgage.  This is not legal advice, this is coaching.  You’ll have to do your work.  Your age plays a major role in the cost of premiums once you know how much you need to go shopping for the best deal. At least have a policy that will cover the end of life expenses.   

 The this-worldly things to take care of include your advanced directive, legal distribution of your estate, and life insurance.   Having taken care of the temporal matters you know can turn your attention to relational ones, matters of the heart.

 Once again before you die, make sure you have a right relationship with God.  Make sure your loved ones know that you are a Christ-follower.  That of course should be obvious because you are a lover.

It’s best to depart this life for the next with a clear conscience (Hebrews 13:18).  If there is an estrangement between you and someone else, work at reconciling it.  If there is a need to forgive someone, then cancel their debt.  If you need to ask for forgiveness, do it, get out from under your emotional debt (Romans 13:8).  Deal with guilt issues.  If there is some pain in your life redeem it.  Don’t wait.  Tie up the loose ends.  All you have for sure is this very now. 

 Along these same lines, don’t put off living.  From her hospital bed, Connie Winterburn said to me while struggling to breathe “There was so much more I wanted to do.”  Friends when this life is done, it will most likely be done too soon (Psalm 90:12).  So live the abundant life now (John 10:10), laugh (Proverbs 17:22), love (Proverbs 17:17), and grab righteous joy everywhere you can find it right now.  Don’t put it off. 

 Tim McGraw sings “Live like You Were Dying.” [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9TShlMkQnc ] Living life to the full is living like you were dying.  Tim receives one of those dreaded diagnoses, so he goes sky diving, rocky mountain climbing, rode a mechanical bull called Fu Manchu, and loved deeper, spoke sweeter, gave forgiveness he was denying.  He chose to be a better husband, a better friend and made time to do some things he kept putting off, like going fishing.  He seriously read the bible, the good book, repented of some things in his past.  Don’t put off living.

 The Apostle Paul writes: that you “do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse”  (Philippians 4:8 (MSG).  

Live your life to the full now, the Holy Spirit will guide you into living well.

 Death comes unexpectedly.  Take care of business while you can.  Those that die well have often lived life well.

 If you have taken care of business, and you are prepared for sudden death, you’ll have more time to say goodbye.  It needs to be reiterated, faith in those great and precious promises concerning eternal life are an incredible source of encouragement and hope that drives out fear.  That faith will result in the Holy Spirit empowering you to live well while you are dying. 

 Dying well involves accepting the reality of the situation.  If God doesn’t intervene with a miracle you’re going to die.  What happens when you die is that you will be with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), most likely in a place called paradise (Luke 23:43).  I believe that when I die, it will be OK, that things will be better than I can imagine (Ephesians 3:20 & 1 Corinthians 2:9).  Accepting the scriptural revelation you can deal with the situation, and dealing with the situation you will allow you to make wise choices because you will let the Holy Spirit guide you.

 Dying well involves saying goodbye.  Goodbyes are always difficult, I have found them to be gut-wrenching because I started grieving the loss coupled with the anxiety that comes with the anticipation of the loss before the loss happens.  I denied the inevitability of what was going to happen and robbed myself of blessing. I needed help.  As the person getting ready to depart you need to help your loved ones deal with saying goodbye.  Painful, bitter, honesty.  

Saying goodbye involves giving thanks and expressing appreciation for the life together well lived. Reminisce with joy in the memories of all those shared experiences.  You tell your loved ones how important they are, how they made your life worth living, sorry that they have to walk through this part with you, but so glad for their bravery to be with you.  There will be tears but that’s just the price of dying well.

 You most likely will need someone you can confide in.  You will need to talk.  You need to be listened to.  Mitch Alborn wrote of his relationship with Morrie Schwarts as Morrie gradually dies.  Tuesdays with Morrie is the book.  In those times together Morrie shared his final lessons on living with Mitch.  The stuff we take out of the dark and bring into the light losses its scary.

 Dying well involves having time to let go.  One thing that is difficult to let go of is your dignity and your privacy, actually needing someone to take care of you.  Needing someone to help you with hygiene, getting dressed, preparing your meals, giving medications, therapies, and doing your laundry is not easy to get used to, it's letting go of pride.  This can be hard especially if you have been rather independent your whole life.  You don’t want to burden anyone with your care, but as your ability to do even the simple things decline, now is the time to let people care for you.  Receive their expression of their love for you, they need to give it, you need to graciously receive it. 

Dying well involves having time to encourage.  We encourage people by expressing our faith in them, that they will be able to carry on smartly without you.  You have time to bestow blessings upon them, to put your hand on theirs giving them a great gift.  You may recite to them their strengths, what you see in them, what you believe about them, what you hope they will do in the future, but especially how much you love them.  Tell your kids that you are proud of them.  Tell your daughters that they are beautiful, desirable, worth someone fights for.  Tell your sons that they are capable of conquering the world.  I know that is not very politically correct, but truth doesn’t have to be politically correct. 

Dying well also may involve listening to your loved ones.  Getting things straight, dealing with issues in the past, time is fleeting to get relationships right.  This is time for asking for forgiveness and making things right.  This can be so hard, but there’s nothing easy about dying well.

 Dying well involves having time to write out your epitaph, the things you hope others will remember you for.  Write down the wisdom you wish to pass on.  Write a letter to your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, expressing your hopes for them, explaining your faith to them.

 Dying well involves having time to tell others of the hope you have in life eternal through Christ who saved you and will claim you and will raise you.  The bold words of your witness may be the vehicle that introduces someone to Jesus (Revelation 12:11; Acts 7). 

Dying well gives you time to draw closer to God.  “The things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glorious face.”  “Dying is an invitation to trust the love of God in the face of life’s greatest uncertainty.” (Matthew Levering)

Walking through the valley of the shadow of death is both a lament and hope.  A lament is a passionate expression of grief, of sorrow, of mourning that our journey through this life is coming to an end.  A hope that the end of the journey is the beginning of eternal life and the parting will be forgotten in the reunion that is to come (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

 The key to dying well is to have lived well, to have lived wisely, to have lived your life to the full.  Dying well is the culmination of a life lived for the glory of God.” [https://www.seedbed.com/dying-well-according-to-john-wesley/ ] Having lived well you will walk the valley of the shadow of death without fear.

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