Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure; whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I had a thought today, actually everyday since I found out I tested positive for COVID-19. Don’t freak out, don’t call the police, don’t add me to your prayer requests list but I thought…
“What if just died?”
Seriously. I’m in no way, shape, or form suicidal. I just had a human thought about death, about transitioning from this life into the next. I’ve become more aware of my breaths since getting sick. How difficult it is to breathe. And COVID-19 is new, so it’s like being a guinea pig or a lab rat in a scientific experiment. Everyone wants to know what it feels like, how you’re feeling today, is it getting better or worse, are you eating? You know, typical sick questions only more intense because…nobody’s has had COVID-19 except those who have had it.
The truth is, this virus is subjective. All viruses are subjective. Some people get them and it’s like nothing, others get them and they wish they had strength enough to describe it, and then there are those who don’t live long enough to tell you how it was. That’s the pain of life, unfortunately. But for me, as I struggle for each breath, as I try to work up an appetite, as I try to rest and not think of the assignments that are piling up, the only thing I can think about is…
“What if I just died?”
What I really mean is: what if I just died…like this.
When I think of my death I always picture a sweet slumber carrying me off into the infinite and then I open my eyes and I’m there. I see light, I see gold, I see the greenest greens and the bluest blues; I’m finally home. Or, I think of my death heroically. I think of my death as sacrificial, laying my life down for the Gospel or for the vulnerable. Being slaughtered for justice and truth.
I don’t see viruses and diseases. I don’t really have too many physical conditions that would allow me to foresee a sickly future that would cause a slow, painful death. I never see myself as old when I picture death either. Thinking of living to be 70 years old in a world like this is hell for me but to some it might be beautiful to live a long life here.
That’s not the point though.
The real point is WHY am I thinking about it at all? I’m not scared, COVID-19 doesn’t scare me. Nothing scares me really. What concerns me is leaving like this: leaving with nothing to leave behind. I have nothing for my family or friends, nothing for the future, only memories that I hope would be mostly pleasant. What concerns me is how I would be remembered when I’m gone. What concerns me is the difference between who people thought I was and who I really am, the truth that will be revealed when I’m gone. (And no, I don’t have many scary skeletons in my closet. Only a few unexplainable things. Funny things.)
But even that is thinking too much. Sometimes a distraction and weapon of the enemy is to get you to wonder so that you wander off. There’s a story I loved as a child. It tells of a child wandering the night without fear by explaining what all of the scary things in the dark could be. Like what if the monster in the closet was gatekeeper into a hidden city?
In this life, there’s plenty of scary things but in Christ there’s nothing to be afraid of. Your worst outcome is His best story yet. He tells us to guard our minds and take captive those thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5) because every wondering thought is not true or pure or lovely or worth thinking about. Some wondering thoughts will have you wandering into despair.
So, if you have a wandering thought, even if it’s just for a moment, capture it quickly. The biggest battles are always in the mind and with good thoughts you can win your spiritual war every time.