I was speaking with a friend today about someone important to her that had a near-death experience. It brought to mind an event that I hadn’t thought of in years.
Early in my faith walk I was an arrogant, envious, shrew. And some of you reading this know that there are plenty of folks like these crowding our churches even today. I won’t go too much into why I was those things, but there is a point to me revealing that to you. First, we must recognize when we are near death and second, we must understand why those moments sometimes come into our lives.
And I must add a third because it was the actual death of a precious friend that caused my own near-death experience.
Early in my marriage I was insecure and allowed that insecurity to distrust any female that showed my husband any amount of kindness. I had no idea what unconditional love was. I thought any female that was nice to my husband wanted to take him from me. This assumption made me mean-spirited and crippled my ability to serve.
There was a church we attended where there was a young lady who taught Sunday School and worked with my husband on a regular basis because he taught the adult class. She seemed so loving and friendly so naturally my unfounded jealousy kept her at arms-length.
One day she announced that she would be giving her initial sermon and invited us to attend, which thankfully, we did.
As she was speaking from the pulpit, there was so much love coming from her that she actually began to glow. It was as if every word was spoken not only to convict, but to heal. To this day, I remember how she glowed even though this event happened over twenty years ago.
During her sermon, something inside of me “clicked” and I began to get a sense of what true unconditional love meant. I finally relaxed. What she had done was to share the love of Christ in a way that reminded me that if His love is eternal, there is more than enough to receive and to release back to others. I would never again be afraid of not being loved. I would always be secure in Christ.
Afterward, I went to embrace her and thank her for speaking. When she hugged me, I felt a portion of the virtue the Holy Spirit had released to her during her sermon envelope me. My life had changed. I was about to have a spiritual near-death experience.
My mother called me the following Tuesday to tell me that this wonderful woman whom I had just begun to love had died. She was on a spiritual fast to prepare for another speaking engagement and became dehydrated. She died in her sleep.
I was overwrought with grief. This woman, the one that I wasted so much time resenting, the one who freely gave all that she had-she was gone. I would never be able to go to her and ask her forgiveness or thank her for my new life. I knew in that moment that I could waste no more time on resentments and jealousies with anyone. My near-death was allowing that rancid, arrogant, pinched up woman that was me to die and let Christ’s love heal my emptiness. It was a near-death because I had to learn to live without insecurity, fear, or unfounded hate. I had never lived like that before. Half of my persona was burning up in the refining fire of the Holy Spirit.
But it came at a precious price. First, by the Savior. Then by her. She understood His sacrifice more than I could comprehend.
I’m tearful as I write this. Because of her love she endured my failings. Because she endured my failings, I was able to witness true agape. Because I was able to witness true agape, I learned to finally accept the fact that Christ loves me just as much and more than enough. Because I understand that love, I can give it to others without fear. If it were not for her obedience would I have learned in time? I don’t know.
What I do know is that wherever you are in your life you must know two things.
Jesus remembers you and His love for you is eternal. And…
Give as much of it away as you can.
There is more than enough.