What about Abraham, our father? Wasn’t he shown to be righteous through his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? See, his faith was at work along with his actions. In fact, his faith was made complete by his faithful actions. (James 2:21-22 CEB)
I’ve been thinking a bit about death of late. Specifically, about the power our life has on others and how we struggle to sum up and express that power with words. Several creeks feed this river in my mind right now.
The mother of a friend of mine from my teenage years died not that long ago. Looking back now I can see she was a woman who influenced me more than she would have ever imagined in her wildest dreams. It bothers me a bit that I didn’t fully realize that until it was too late to tell her myself. Words unspoken speak to me now and so I pray for my Father’s forgiveness in this.
The last of my parents’ siblings died a couple of weeks ago. Aunt Vera was a Christian in whom it was easy to see the fruit of God’s Spirit. However, her departure leaves my Dad, her “baby brother,” as the sole survivor of his generation and the words he shares with me in conversation now tell me he is feeling the weight of that these days. Heavenly Father, grant me the service of loving listening and few, but wise words.
I have a dear friend who is slowly dying of a rather rare, incurable disease. His daily experience of slow deterioration in mind and body isn’t made any easier by the fact that some of his closest kin remain entrenched in total denial about his situation. Their inability to deal with the reality of death themselves greatly complicates my friend’s difficult journey. It would only take a few words to make his journey much easier, but will those words ever come? Prayerful words again arise from my heart: Lord, open their eyes and break their misguided hardness.
Just yesterday I attended a memorial service for a person who was a stranger to me. The words spoken were carefully crafted ahead of time, written with reflection and care, not left simply to the spur of the moment. It was good to overhear these good words of love from family and friends spoken on the deceased’s behalf for the benefit of all. Not every family has such blessings. Thank you, Father in heaven, for every good thing you work through everyone.
And now as I read this passage in James, I encounter a father, a son, and a near death experience, all orchestrated by the living God who spoke his will to them. The Spirit of this same God, working through his servant James centuries later, summed this father’s relationship with the Father, in just a very few words. And as I consider these words, turning them over and over again in my mind, the thought comes to me that I want to live such a life here and now so that when my children and grandchildren someday view my lifeless body, these words of James will readily come to their mind and will ring true, not hollow:
“… his faith was made complete by his actions.”
Holy Father in heaven, help me to live so now that your name is honored and respected in all of my ways. May this be so clear and obvious to all that in the death of my death, what others will remember is not so much me, but you, and that you are the one to be trusted and lived after, always and in every way. Amen.
Consider our father, Abraham, won’t you? His ways revealed he was right in his relationship with God as he offered Isaac – his own son! – on the altar. Visualize his faith working itself out through his ways. Truly his trust was tendered by what he did. (James 2:21-22 DSV)