Control Life and Death

“. . . control life and death.”


“Now this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘I hate the wristbands that you use in your attempt to control life and death. I will rip them off your arms and set free the people that you were controlling.  I will rip off your scarves and let my people escape from your power once and for all. Then you will know that I am the Lord.‘” (Ezekiel 13:20-21)

It seemed like I had barely sent out last week’s Wednesday Wonderings with the photos of the two cute twin fawns when Patti walked through the door Thursday morning after her night shift at the hospital as a critical care nurse saying, “Well that was a really awful ending to a really awful shift.  One of the baby deer is dead beside the road.”  She was very upset – and so was I.  They were so cute.

The Service of Committal from The United Methodist Book of Worship begins with the statement and question, “In the midst of life, we are in death; from whom can we seek help?”  It seems we’ve been looking for the answer to that question for many, many years.  In the passage from Ezekiel quoted above I get the impression that some of the Israelites had been so terrified by the presence of death in the midst of their lives that they turned to magicians and soothsayers to seek protection from death.  I can almost hear the snake oil sales people peddling their wares: “Just wear this magic wristband and you will be protected from death.  For a mere 1 denari you too can revel in the knowledge that you can escape death.”  (I did some research and found that a denari was a Roman silver coin worth 10 asses.)

If we do not learn to live with death, we are doomed to become controlled by our fear of death.  If we do not learn to live with death we can never truly know the joy of loving relationships.   The fear of losing another can keep us from drawing closer and closer into relationships that can become so comfortable and fulfilling that we know there’s nothing better this side of heaven.  As long as we fear death and see it as having some ultimate authority over life, we can never truly give ourselves over to joyous living.  We’ll always be holding back.

When we learn to live with the awareness that, “In the midst of life, we are death,” we also grow in our appreciation of life.  We learn to cherish life because we are more fully aware that we, and all those around us, are only a heartbeat away from death.  I guess what I’ve come to in my own life is the awareness that death offers me a choice.  I either can choose to be afraid of death and devote my energies to escaping it, or I can choose to embrace death as part of life and use my energies to cherish my own life and the other lives God has given me as gifts to share.  I choose cherishing!  How?  Let me take you back to The Book of Worship.

In The Book of Worship the statement and question raised earlier, “In the midst of life, we are in death; from whom can we seek help?” are followed by a quote from Psalm 124:8, “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth,” and then a quote from Romans 8:11, God who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through the Spirit that dwells in you.”  I know this God, “who made heaven and earth.”  I’ve encountered this God with my joys and sorrows, and with my doubts and praises.  I know this God, “who raised Christ from the dead . . .”  The relationship of God’s Spirit with my spirit is what allows me to make the leap of faith necessary to cherish instead of fear.  How do you make the leap of faith that allows you to choose cherishing life instead of fearing death?  I pray that God’s Spirit will give me, and you, the assurance we need to choose cherishing life instead of fearing death.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on August 7, 2013.

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