A Good Day to Die

Several days ago, I was watching an old episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine with my husband. The characters were preparing to go into battle, when one Klingon warrior, as was their custom, exclaimed, “It is a good day to die!” No, he wasn’t planning to die, but as a warrior, coming from a warrior race, he believed that to die in battle was an honorable death.
And so the theme for this article: dying in battle. The article isn’t about being martyred for one’s faith, even though hundreds of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being tortured and martyred because of their beliefs every day in the Middle East and Africa. And even more are dying in West Africa because they are volunteering to care for those who are infected with the Ebola virus. Although we need to pray for them, the article isn’t really about dying. Well, maybe it kind of is about dying, in a way. You see, living the Christian life is about dying—to our selves, to our desires, to our wants—so we can live for Christ.
In Acts, chapter 20, we read a speech of Paul to the believers from Ephesus. Paul was on his way to Jerusalem. He knew that by going to Jerusalem he could be captured, arrested, perhaps even killed, but he also knew it was God’s will that he go there. He sent for the believers so he could speak to them one more time. He said to them,
And now, as a captive to the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace (Philippians 1:22-24).
Did Paul want to die? I don’t believe so. In other passages he expresses his problem. While he is longing to get to heaven and be with the Lord, he also feels the need and desire to be with his “children” in the faith, to help them find their way in the Christian life (Philippians 1). But yet, he treks toward Jerusalem anyway.
How does this relate to us today? I don’t think many of us are planning to go to West Africa as medical missionaries to treat Ebola patients. And I don’t think any of us is boarding a plane to the Middle East to be in the path of ISIS extremists. What does dying mean to us?
Paul uses the term “dying” figuratively and literally. While he knew that he might physically die, he also referred to dying as putting aside his own wants and desires to serve the Lord (Romans 8:13). He had found the place in faith where he could place God’s will first, and “die” to his own flesh. Paul decided that each day he would walk the path set before him by God, whatever the result.
What in your life have you not “died” to? Is it a person, a possession, a dream? What is the one thing (or maybe more) that is keeping you from living the Christian life as Paul did, being ready each day to put aside those things that keep you from hearing God’s call and serving Him wholeheartedly? We have so much more than Paul or any of the early believers had. Our brothers in the Middle East today have only their faith. Everything else has been taken away, and yet they still stand and profess Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives.
Are you ready to die, perhaps not literally but spiritually, to set aside all the things that keep you from doing God’s will in your life? Have you taken inventory of your life and found that the priorities you cherish are not those that God would have for you, but rather are holding you back from God’s will, from serving Christ effectively? Take some time this week to do a self-evaluation. Pray and ask the Lord to look through your heart and show you what can be left behind, if necessary, so that you can be fully committed to serving God.
My prayer this week is that, like the Klingon warriors, you will come to the place where you can proclaim, “Today is a good day to die, and a very good day to live for Christ!”
Blessings!

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