Death.
Probably not the most exciting word to start a blog with, but I want to bring light to another aspect of death. The one that doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think about it.

Mel Gibson in his famed portrayal of William Wallace, the martyred 14th century Scottish warrior, said: “Every man dies, but not every man really lives”. Wallace found his life in pursuing Scotland’s freedom from King Edward’s tyranny. To Wallace, living was not a beating heart, but what justified it. The Braveheart dictum remains true today.

I want to ask you to do the nearly impossible and disconnect that word from any loss you may have  experienced. Can you think of a few of the most elementary meanings of that word?

What comes to mind?

I think of words like: ceasing, end, inertia, passivity, and isolation.

Death tries to walk in before life wants to leave. It is this thing that tries to crawl up on us the moment our feet touch the ground in the morning. Like gravity, it’s constantly pulling us to a place of inactivity and nonexistent significance. Most of us picture it as a casket, or a headstone in a cemetery, but death is everywhere; it exists in thought, in fear, in the aborted dreams and unaccomplished goals. It is a calling not answered, a gift untapped, a talent not exercised. Death persists, and it is active until you are not.

How are you and I to live then? Life and death are at war against each other, and we are the battlefields. You can experience the tension in the simplest things. It is present in every regret and in every achievement. The wounds and scars are contrasted by strength and ability, and this happens in plain sight. Many times it goes unnoticed.

Have you ever failed at something, but instead of giving up you kept trying until you mastered it? From simple things like riding a bicycle, reading, or playing sports, to more complex things like developing a team, getting a degree, learning to play an instrument, or running a company. Some things may take a whole day to learn, others many lifetimes.

Every time you didn’t give up, every time you got back up and tried again you chose life.

Timothy was a young pastor and was put in charge of a church by his mentor, the apostle Paul. When Timothy is faced with challenges, Paul charges him with the following:

“…wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith”
(1 Timothy 1:18b-19 ESV)

and later:

Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…”
(1 Timothy 1:11b-12a ESV)

Paul’s charge to Timothy is riveting and refreshing, it is active and it has attitude. Paul was Timothy’s life coach, a relationship that went well beyond academics. I get excited because I see a guy encouraging a pursuit of life with a passion that doesn’t shy away for fear of what might go wrong.

Wage the good warfare,
Remain in pursuit,
Fight the good fight of faith,
Take hold of the eternal kind of life.

In one sentence: Keep on the offense!

Many have made the unfortunate mistake of thinking of this “good warfare” as a mechanism to achieve uniformity of behavior.  They have likened the pursuit of “holiness” or being “Christ-like” to living as little as possible to avoid sin – which is in my view the equivalent of pursuing the title of “person-who-least-fell-off-a-bicycle champion” by not riding it at all. This type of attitude is based on fear, and is fruitless.

Paul’s encouragement is about the battle waging on the inside. Our thoughts, desires, dreams, goals, talents, potential, emotions and what we do with it on a daily basis; it is a recipe on how to maximize life and conquer death every day.

Jesus has invited us to engage life and master it, just as he did!
He remained in pursuit. His eyes were on the open tomb; on the conquered grave. “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” he said (John 2:19 NIV).

What is your life-mission?
What tools has God given you to better this world and make a positive impact on those around you?
What is death trying to embrace in your life?

Whatever it is, whether you know the answer or not, whether you are fulfilling your purpose or you’re still searching for it, let me encourage you to press on and remain on the offense.

Wage the good warfare,
Remain in pursuit,
Fight the good fight of faith,
Take hold of the eternal kind of life.

We love you.
-JD