It’s six minutes after eleven on the evening of Tuesday, March 12th 2013. I’m about to leave the hospice after a very full day. Full of Spirit-lead and empowered opportunity to share the gospel of hope in Jesus Christ. And full, in the same measure, of difficulty.
About three hours ago I was speaking to a group of 14 and 15 year olds, following an invitation from a local church to share our personal testimony about the experienced reality of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. And roughly 45 minutes before I left for that meeting, Annie was lying down on her bed, and beneath an oxygen mask, through broken, raw and splintered lips and short gasps for air, asked me to grab a jotter as she dictated her message of hope that she desperately wanted me to share with the young people this evening.
That was difficult in many ways for me.
She was so weak, it was as if she was using up her very dying breath; I feared she might have no more breath to tell me once more “I love you.” But what she was whispering, miming and hand-signing onto paper was far more precious to me. If I could summarise those words that occupied five or six pages in the jotter it was simply this: “I love Jesus”.
Happy, if with my latest breath
I may but gasp His Name,
Preach Him to all and cry in death,
“Behold, behold the Lamb!”
This day has been one in many difficult days over the last week. In a few words, my summary of the week would be blood, breathlessness, bumps, bulges, blessings…and baptism.
Following the calcium infusion Annie was given a blood transfusion to tackle the anemia; but so much has happened since, the significane and effect of those things seem to have faded into the past and been long forgotten. Since last Friday Annie’s breathing has declined suddenly, drastically and rapidly. If the oxygen mask or nasal specs leave her face for just a few seconds she begins to struggle with her breathing to the point of panic. Even the briefest and shortest journey from the bed to the nearby commode leaves her literally gasping for air. In terms of Annie’s health, things are getting much worse than we might have expected from this visit to the hospice. She has also suffered massive unexplainable nosebleeds and new bumps and bulges seem to be appearing all over her head, legs and body.
But. We have the experience of unshakeable peace and unspeakable joy from Jesus right now.
I asked the young people tonight what I believe is the most important question in the universe. If the answer to this question is “Yes” then immediately 100,000 other BIG questions are answered also.
“Did Jesus rise from the dead?”
If Jesus rose from the dead, then the answer to the question “Is there a God?” is “Yes” because Jesus truly must be God incarnate. If Jesus rose from the dead, then the answer to the question “Is there life after death?” is “Yes” because Jesus is the only person with any authority to tell us what lies beyond the grave and He said that there was eternal life after death. If Jesus rose from the dead, then the answer to the question “Are heaven and hell real places?” has to be “Yes” because Jesus said that they were. If Jesus rose from the dead, then the answer to the question “Is God loving and powerful?” is “Yes and Yes” because Jesus truly did powerful things that only God could do and His death on the cross and resurrection on the third day was His great act of love to save us from the curse of sin and offer us forgiveness and new life. If Jesus rose from the dead, then the answer to the question “Is there only one way to God?” is “Yes” because Jesus said that no-one comes to God the Father except through Him. And we could go on and on…and on answering questions in the light of the answer to that one great question.
The historical and archaeological proof is an overwhelming “Yes!”
“…surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”- Matthew 28:20
As for Annie and I, we can tell you that as recent as March 12th, 2013, Jesus is very much alive because as He promised – after He rose from the grave – He is surely with us always. What you witness in us right now is Jesus. Not the idea of Jesus. Not even the distant hope of Jesus. Not the notion of Jesus. You are witnessing Jesus in us. His power. His peace. His presence. His life. He is alive.
Now, I must sleep as – if the Lord wills – tomorrow is a big day for Annie and I. A day in which we hope to explain the meaning of the aforementioned reference to ‘baptism’.
Yours alive in Him,