Bible Study, God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit

Dying Changes Everything

Dying Changes Everything by Ruth O'Reilly-Smith

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This was the title of a programme I watched recently and it prompted me to think about death a lot more than I usually do. Perhaps it was the recent loss of my beloved uncle, but I found myself reflecting on a neighbour who recently lost her husband to covid, I thought about a pastor who lost his darling wife to a long and debilitating illness and was reminded of my 80-year-old friend who nursed her daughter through a three year battle with cancer, only to say goodbye to her two weeks ago.

Near-death experiences often shift our perspective and spark change or action that may not have come otherwise, but death really does change everything.

J.C. Penny died in 1971, age 95. He was founder of hundreds of department stores that thrived for years across America. As clerk, he earned six dollars a week, but his overriding ambition was to be worth a hundred thousand dollars. When he achieved that goal, he set his sights on becoming a millionaire, but when his wife died of pneumonia, he sank into deep despair and in the midst of the Great Depression found himself ruined financially. At a complete loss, Penny humbled himself and cried out to God. The death of his wife changed everything. “Like a light illuminating my being. I cannot otherwise describe it, than to say it changed me as a man.”

The birth of Jesus forever changed the lives of the shepherds and wise men who came to see him. Crowds were in awe, perspectives were altered and destinies were shifted during his three years of ministry on earth, but what really changed everything was his death. Along with his resurrection, it now meant that death was defeated and his ascension to heaven ushered in the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is where we begin to see true and lasting change. As news spread of the transforming difference Jesus makes in people’s lives through the power of the Holy Spirit, those early followers of Jesus were instrumental in turning the world upside down.

Death comes to us all and my prayer is that you won’t wait until the death of someone important in your life to get your priorities right, but I also pray you’ll consider a different kind of death Jesus spoke of – dying to self. If dying really does change everything then this is the death that leads to a full and satisfying life here on earth as well as an eternal life in the presence of God.

Has that kind of dying really changed everything for you? The Bible talks about us being completely transformed when we lay aside our own desires and ask Jesus to direct our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.

If you’ve never done that, you can today with a simple prayer to God, surrendering your will and asking him, through Jesus to lead your life. If you are a follower of Jesus, then your decision to die to self has changed you forever. Live then as changed.

© 2021 by Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

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