When Death Called My Name

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The skeleton stared at me from the cover of the book. So many books sat on the shelf in the vestibule of the bookstore as I walked back outside to meet a woman for coffee. Only one book cover had the gall to look at me. The one with death on its face. A bleak reminder that thoughts of suicide had stolen back into my mind. I knew I would not take my life because of my love of Jesus, but the thoughts came uninvited. Just three-and-a-half weeks ago. And not without cause.

I was broken. Again. Weary. Again. Grieving. Again. Hurting. Again. Angry. Again. I had lost my beloved Shepherd Red, co-founder of my ministry who God used along with me to birth the ministry, to save a homeless man’s live, and to help draw countless other lives to Christ. I was plagued once again with the chronic aftermath of being an incest survivor. I was tired of my family’s denial, and the pressure they have placed on me for decades to say it never happened. I was wiped out from years of virtually relentless challenges and losses. So the skeleton had an offer to make me. The devil called my name. He said dying would be easier. I could be with my dog Red again. I could be with Jesus. I could be with all the others. The skeleton smirked at me from the cover of the book, beckoning.

In the moments it took to pass through the vestibule out into the fresh warm air outdoors where I could catch my breath if but for moments from the oppression that had once again beset me, the Lord spoke to me. God never says too much; He never says too little. He is always right on time.

“I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord (Psalm 118:17 KJV).”

I must have breathed then. Relief. A gentle hand. A loving reminder. I already knew I would not commit suicide. I had been plagued with suicidal thoughts for years long ago, but I did not know Jesus. When I came to know my beloved, I knew I could never take the life the Lord has given me. When He gave me the scripture as I exited the bookstore and left the skeleton in my wake, His voice, His presence, He upheld me. He breathed enough life into me to take my next step. And then another.

Just a few more steps. I leaned against my car, my face lifted up toward the warm sun, taking in its heat as I waited wearily for my new friend to arrive. A woman I barely knew. And, for the life of me, I did not know why I had arranged to meet her. After all, I had just recently stepped away from the world, from the telephone as much as possible, from contact with people as much as I could, from the noise and distractions and chaos and pain and everything else of the world, to step into the wilderness with the Lord.

I may have made a decision not to die, but neither had I made a decision to truly live. There can be a fine line between the two, and I teetered, and tottered, and wobbled, right upon the line. Refusing to budge. For I had given the Lord an ultimatum. In my heart, when I lost my beloved Red, coupled with all else I had been walking through both through the years and only recently, I wanted nothing more than to climb a ladder to heaven.

When death once again called my name, I knew I wouldn’t kill myself. But if I were to ever truly live again, God would have to do something. Not a human. But God. I had run the whole gamut of getting help from the world, from every person and every form of help imaginable. And nothing was more than a temporary band-aid that stuck upon my skin. I gave God an ultimatum this time around. If you want me healed, God, you do it. I will not stay on this earth for me. I will stay on it for you. I don’t want to be here, but I will be here for you. Do something with me. I can’t go on like this. I’m all yours, God.

When my new friend arrived and we sat down for coffee, I had no agenda. Apparently, she did. This woman I barely knew. The woman who knew virtually nothing about me.

“I sense you’re in turmoil,” she said almost as soon as she sat down. I had barely spoken. She didn’t know me.

No, I disagreed. I would not have used that word, but who was I to know anyway? I only knew I was broken.

“I have a word for you from the Lord,” she said.

Uh oh. Now what.

“I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord (Psalm 118:17 KJV).”

Jesus.

I did not know God was sowing seed. I could not have figured. But now I do.

For less than one month later, I am more alive than I have ever been. I am declaring His works to the world like never before. I am preaching God’s Word at an assisted living facility weekly, I preached God’s Word at the soup kitchen in Savannah, GA, on my 46th birthday, and again next week, I am writing for God’s glory almost daily, I am preaching on the streets wherever He sends me to preach, and I am more on fire for Him than I have ever been.

I am just as broken as I was. I cry. I grieve. I mourn. And in my very brokenness, God has brought up from the ashes a beauty beyond imagination. His beauty.

Just days ago, on my birthday, when I preached at the soup kitchen, a woman came up to me after. She told me she was suicidal. Death is calling her name.

And because I no longer stand on the border of death and life, because I choose to live, because I chose to live only for the glory of the Lord and not for myself, I bear in my body, in my mouth, in my life, the light of Jesus Christ. A light that will bring life where I go. A light that will transport His light to His intended destination. A heart that will sing His praises even in the midst of a life of trial after trial and tribulation after tribulation. A mouth that will preach His Word that never returns void.

My victory is not in the things of this world. I have lost my beloved Red. I lost my childhood to sexual abuse. I lost years to addictions, post traumatic stress disorder, self-mutilation, debilitating depression, years of suicidal thoughts, the loss of my family to denial, abandonment by two husbands, the loss of my pastor to heaven too early, numerous dogs, and so much more. I am single. I have no social life. I have a simple life. I do not have a husband nor a family. No, my victory is not at all in the things of this world.

My victory is in the Lord Jesus Christ. And in Him is my very life. And for the Lord I live. For His glory alone. That the world might know that no matter how many times death calls our name, no matter how hard this life may be, that through faith in Jesus Christ and a life in pursuit of Him is the promise of eternity. And in this life down here, on this very earth, is the invitation to enter into a relationship that nothing else, nothing good nor anything bad, can even come near in beauty and significance.

Death called my name. And I answered.

Jesus. The Christ.

I love you forever, my Lord.

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live (Deuteronomy 30:19 KJV).”

Please visit Walk by Faith Ministry at https://www.walkbyfaithministry.com.

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