Elisabeth Elliot, a missionary and author, once made a profound statement on the role of death in living. Gracefully she explained to an interviewer that death is a natural part of God’s plan, and that it is most clearly seen in nature. She said, “When the leaves fall off there's death, then in the spring there's life. But those beautiful blossoms have to fall to the ground—to die—or no fruit will be produced.”
That statement carries in itself a strange and beautiful truth. For there to be life, life made new, there must first be death. Death is so often seen in our world as an ending, but in truth death is the first step in living. Not solely physical death, but sometimes the death of hopes, dreams, desires of our heart. At times we get so caught up on the deaths that we must die that we lose sight of the reason we are dying them. How often are our lives like the blossoms on a tree? Christ tells us that His followers bear fruit, but the painful truth is that for that fruit to be borne in us, something has to die. What has to die is our sin, and that my friends is a painful and difficult death.
It is so fitting that we, as Christians, can find in the example of Jesus Christ not only the perfect example of how to live , but also the perfect example of how to die. I think about that night Jesus spent alone in the garden of Gethsemane. It springs to mind most often when I am faced with a little death that I must die, when there is some “cup” I wish would pass from me. I look to Jesus, as He prayed in that garden alone, and seek comfort in the knowledge that even He, when knowing the time He was sent for was at hand, was fighting against anxiety and fear. It is ok for us, when faced with a circumstance, or even the death of our physical bodies, to be afraid. Christ knew we would be, but He provided for us the perfect prayer to see us through our deaths to the life on the other side. He told His Father, “Not mine, but thy will be done.” That should be our prayer when its time for us to die. We take up our cross daily, knowing that only through death will we find life. We know that we die, only that we might live.