Death’s Sweetness

Joshua 18:3: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD has given you?” (NIV).

Observation: The nation had entered the Promised Land and it was time for the tribes to establish themselves in regions of their own. A few tribes had already received their inheritance, but seven remained passive, making no effort to move into their special places. To them Joshua asked, “How long will you wait before you begin to possess what God has already given?”

Application: This remarkable verse plumbs the depths of the mysterious partnership God wants with each of us. Are we to be warriors or glad recipients of God’s largess? Yes. Are we to step out in boldness or wait on Him? Both. It is in both the substance and the timing of our assignment that we achieve perfect oneness with the heart and mind of God. From the tone of Joshua’s question, the seven hesitant tribes seem to have lingered too long. 

I can see myself in those Hebrew tribes, sometimes moving smartly out to claim God’s promises, other times hanging back, needing a firm shove toward the finish line. Sometimes I need clearer vision of the finish line. 

I well remember about six years before my wife’s death when neither she nor I could imagine her surviving more than a little longer. We prepared as fully as we knew how, and then we waited. In the morning she would say, or her eyes would convey, “Well, I’m still here.” Driven back to the Father with confusion and questions, we longed for her release, yet we began to understand that His higher purposes apparently held something more. Her last six years became a season of depth and richness in the Lord I could never have imagined as God showed me dimensions of my own heart that had not yet become fully His. With gradual descent into illness, God opened new doors of intimacy as dependence on Him became more profound. 

Ultimately, we came to know that God had not abandoned or forgotten us. Exhaustion, fear, and disappointment were replaced with a sense of partnering with Him as I began to know at a deeper level the singular privilege of caring for one who was broken and utterly dependent. In this, I became what Cindy already was: broken, bruised, and trusting wholly in another to meet every need. I was no longer running ahead of Him, nor hanging back like the seven Hebrew tribes. Cindy’s last breath became a moment of perfect completion for us both. Death’s sweetness spread eternity before us, although now each was viewing it from radically different perspectives. I thought of 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (NIV).

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, I fall on my face before Your majesty, Your beauty. I fix my eyes upon You, Lord; with grateful heart I rest in You.

One Response to “Death’s Sweetness”

  1. Donna Rayborn says:

    Your devotionals are always so encouraging and I appreciate you willingness to pour out your personal life experiences and share how God has sustained you. Blessings to you.

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