It was late Winter in 1991, about four weeks after Hannah was born. I had been a Christian for about two-and-a-half years. Caroline and I were heading out of the house for one of her first, post-birth outings: our Lamaze class reunion, where we would be showing off our beautiful daughter to the virtual strangers we had attended class with, whom also had given birth to beautiful children. I remember Caroline standing at the windowed outer door. She was ready to come outside with Hannah, waiting for me to help her to the car.
As I was standing in the driveway, I happened to look down the walkway that went up from the drive alongside our duplex. Something caught my attention, and what I saw stunned me and caused me to shout to Caroline not to come outside.
There, suspended limply at the the neighbor's back door, was the figure ofa man. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. In a surreal type of slow motion, I cautiously walked down the paved path to see an unknown man with an extension cord wrapped around his neck. He was blue and lifeless. I stared up at him having no idea what to do. My stomach was sick. I had never seen a dead man, let alone a suicide. It was clear there was no life in him. I quickly went back to the house and told Caroline what I had found. I don't really remember her reaction, but I then called the police.
There's more to the story, but it culminated with the horrifying screams of a mother staring at a son who had hung himself outside her door. He had come to her in the middle of the night looking for help. She had told him to go away, at which time he threatened to kill himself...and, he did.
The only thing I learned about that young man was that he was an alcoholic and addict. He had battled for the good part of his life. Now, he was dead. My pastor at the time knew the family and had tried to minister to both the mother and the son. They had not responded to the message of salvation shared with them. I don't know their life, and I certainly don't know their hearts, but I know that the evidence presented to me that day was one of death, not life. Jesus said,
"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" (John 11:25-26)
I was very young in the Lord then. I had no idea of the life I would live from that day until now. I certainly had NO idea that I would be spending ten years of my life, and counting, ministering to men exactly like this one.
This issue of Life and Death is all that matters. Consider the following verses as they are heavy on my heart today.
"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you." (2 Cor. 4:3-12)
"So then Death worketh in us, but Life in you."
Ephesians 2:1 says,
"You has He quickened (i.e. made alive, or, given life to) who were once dead in your trespasses and sins."
Where is the Power of God to raise men enslaved and captive to death, sin, and addiction from the dead? Paul says, the power is in US. In you, and in me! It is Christ Himself, who died and rose again that we, too, might die and live in "newness of life."
As I consider the 2 Corinthians passage (and other confirming verses such as John 12:23:-27, Phil 3:8-11, 1 Cor 2:2-4),I can only come to the conclusion that Death is the key to Christ working resurrection power in my life. That power then flows to others and "raises them from the dead."
Today, I mourn the loss of a very kind man. He was also a raging addict. When his god of crack and heroine spoke, he obeyed. He was a dead man walking, powerless to overcome and find life. I ministered to this man countless times over seven years. I shook his hand and told him to call me two days before he was released from the Middleton jail. He said he would. Now, he is dead, two days after his release.
Where is the power of God to save? Where is Christ's power in me? The Cross calls me as the answer to this desperate problem. Is Death at work in me? Is Life at work in you?