Because He Lives

                                                          Because He Lives

     It was a very festive occasion.  My wife and I along with other members of our church had been invited to a retirement party for one of our pastors.  We met and conversed with a number of those we knew and we were looking forward to the program which was to celebrate his years of service.  Despite the upbeat atmosphere, however, I was suppressing a gnawing concern about a biopsy that was performed two days earlier.  The results were to be available the next morning.  I kept telling myself that there was only a slight elevation of the PSA and the likelihood of having prostate cancer was slim.  As different speakers talked about the service and life of the pastor I forgot completely about my health concerns, that is, until the soloist began to sing one of Bill Gaither’s songs.  

                                 Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,

                                 Because He lives, all fear is gone.

                                 Because I know He holds the future, 

                                 And life is worth the living, just because He lives.  

Despite the fact that this was one of our pastor’s favorites and had been a request of his for the program, the Holy Spirit immediately impressed me with the following thoughts.  “This song is for you as well as for the pastor.  The biopsy is positive for cancer, but you can face tomorrow, because I live and I will be with you.”   

     His presence did sustain me through the surgery and has sustained me since.  The scriptures often remind us of His presence as in Isaiah 41:10.  “So do not fear, for I am with you.”  He holds the future firmly in His grasp as He tells us in Psalm 139:3 (LB).  “You chart the path ahead of me, and tell me where to stop and rest.”  And in verse 5 (LB), it says the following.  “You both precede and follow me, and place your hand of blessing on my head.”  Why is life worth the living just because He lives?  The fact that He is resurrected and lives today firmly establishes the fact the God was satisfied with His sacrifice for us.  In Him we have pardon and peace.  He lives to give His life to us so that in Him we have His purity, His power and His purpose.  Life is worth the living because He lives in us to manifest His love to us and through us! 

     In the years that followed, the Holy Spirit continued to enlarge my understanding of this song, not only of the chorus, but of the stanzas as well.  

                                  How sweet to hold a newborn baby,

                                  and feel the pride and joy he (she) brings;

                                  But greater still the calm assurance;

                                  this child can face uncertain days because He lives!    

     I remember clearly holding our first daughter the day she was born in a Rochester MN hospital.  The pride and joy that I felt then I still feel today.  That pride and joy grew and grew as she followed Christ throughout her life.  She married a godly young man and started her family eventually having five children.  When the youngest child was but four years of age, however, she was diagnosed with inoperable cancer.  She faced many uncertain days of pain, nausea, weakness and side effects of chemotherapy over the next next five years.  She faced these days, however, with calm assurance until the day the Lord took her home last year.  She knew that the Lord held her future in his hands.  Because He lived in her and through her, life was worth the living just because He lives.



                                And then one day I’ll cross the river

                                I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;

                                And then, as death gives way to victory,

                                I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!  

     Last year, I held my wife’s hand as she crossed the river.  She had fought life’s final war with pain.  Death gave way to victory.  As I was looking at her, she was looking at the lights of glory!  Before long I will join her in beholding those lights.  I have had four surgeries, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy for recurrent bladder cancer over the last seven years.  Whether the Lord calls me home this year or waits many years is uncertain.  What is certain, however, is His love for me.  “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)   It is because of this love that I continue to sing the chorus I heard that night twenty years ago!     

                                Because He lives, I can face tomorrow

                                Because He lives, all fear is gone

                                Because I know He holds the future.

                                And life is worth the living, 

                                Just because He lives.  

In Christ, Richard Spann



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