As I look around my part of the world during this favorite time of year, I see beauty in the colors and bounty of creation. As the trees enter into a season of rest and the leaves display a final act of triumph before falling lifeless to the ground, their glory cannot be missed. They are paring away the unnecessary and concentrating on the important. As they do this, they reveal their true colors, leaving me in awe of the beauty of dying.
One year ago this month, a family member of mine went through this dying process. After several years of battling cancer that started in her breast, she now waits in Heaven for the rest of her family. Although I wasn't present with her during her final weeks on this earth, I have seen the fruit of her dying beautifully. I witnessed the ways she lived fully as she knew she was dying. I was told of the ways she prepared her nine year-old daughter for her parting. I've seen evidence of the care in leaving memories and instruction and a godly legacy. I saw her living well, continuing to give of herself and be present in this life and paring out the unnecessary as she edged closer to eternity. In this paring away, the beauty of her essence was revealed more clearly.
Hers is not the only dying I have witnessed around me. I have watched a friend die to sin and choose faithfulness. I have witnessed another beautiful one die to self and care for a child that will never be independent from her. This year, I tearfully observed two friends die to doubt and display trust as they relinquished their baby girls to Jesus. Daily, I perceive dying around me as people sacrificially give of time, money, dreams, desires so that others might experience love. And as they pare away sin, selfishness, anger, greed, envy, and so on, their beauty cannot be missed.
It looks like Christ. And it's breathtaking.
"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,
so that we might die to sinsand live for righteousness;
by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray,
but now you have returned to the Shepard and Overseer of your souls."
1 Peter 2:24-25
"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.