Living With the End in Mind
About the Guest
- Authors Michael and Hayley DiMarco recall times when they've had to die to themselves in order to bring life to their marriage. https://www.familylife.com/podcast/familylife-today/taking-up-our-cross/
- Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. http://www.twowaystolive.com/
- Check out all that's available on the FamilyLife Podcast Network. https://www.familylife.com/familylife-podcast-network/
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How does the celebration of Easter affect your eternal perspective? Michael and Hayley DiMarco, Dan Gaffney, and Bob Lepine talk about how the truth of the resurrection of Christ helped them walk through their circumstances with a bigger picture.
Bob: It’s one thing when it’s two people, who are both committed to Christ and walking along the path; but I’m thinking of those listeners, who are going, “If I die to self in the midst of this, then he’s just going to keep…” or “…she’s going to do…”—you know? What do you say there?
Hayley: I say what God’s Word says. I talk to a lot of women, who are in marriages with—I’ll go all the way to the unbelieving husband—where he doesn’t even hear from the Holy Spirit.
Dennis: Right; right.
Hayley: The Scriptures tell us in 1 Corinthians that the unbelieving wife will live in a holy relationship with her husband—he can be saved through that—and that she shouldn’t be reacting out of the flesh. Because what kind of example—as you see in Michael; but I guess I didn’t even, before today, really think of that: that my response was an example to him—but what kind of example do we give to our unbelieving husbands, or our sinful husbands, when our response is sinful? That doesn’t help anyone; our sin never helps anyone.
Michael: When we’re a picture of Christ’s humility, that’s when God is exalted. That’s when we no longer have to strive for getting our name out there, fighting for our rights, standing up for ourselves. There’s huge freedom in that. The fascinating thing is that, when we come to the end of ourselves, that’s really when we find something valuable.
We think that we have so much value to offer—and I still struggle—
Michael: —that’s why there’s that daily death.
But the other thing is that that example of the seed dying so that life may spring forth—life can’t spring forth without death. Well, we always picture ourselves as the farmer, like, “Well, I’m going to plant the seed”; but the seed surrenders itself to the Creator to control the conditions: the rain, the fertilizer—much of the fertilizer in my own life is from my own making. We just spring forth new life because it’s all based on Him and nothing that we do.
Michelle: What great imagery from Michael DiMarco as we’re talking about dying to self. Really, that seed that grows up—we’re in springtime, so we’re starting to see things grow up out of the ground—we’re starting to see flowers starting to bloom; we’re starting to see that. But the seed needs that Creator; and he even said these words: “Have you surrendered to the Creator?” I guess that’s what we’re talking about this Eastertime—is: “Have you surrendered to Him?”
You know, I feel like I could just sit down and talk to Michael and Hayley all day long. Can you imagine what it would be like to sit and chat with this couple? There’s just something about their tone. Basically they’re saying, “I get it!”’ and they live what they preach. They have and are continuing to die to self. In fact, to hear more of their chat with Bob and Dennis, why don’t you go to our website, FamilyLifeThisWeek.com?—and we’ll have a link for you there.
You know, what they’re talking about—this surrendering to the Creator and watching Him grow something new in us/grow this faith in us—this is really hard to believe, isn’t it? It’s something that is so amazing that you or I might have doubts. You know, even the disciples, who knew Jesus and walked with Him for three years, they doubted. So it’s okay to doubt, because God is bigger than our doubts; and He can handle those questions that we have.
Let’s hear more from the Easter account from Mark 16.
Now after He had risen, early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. She went and reported to those who had been seen with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.
After that He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country. They went away and reported it to the others, but they didn’t believe them either.
Michelle: You know, we need to take a quick break; but when we come back, we’re going to continue talking about dying young. You know, for Hayley and Michael, that was a figurative type of death; but for others, it could actually be quite literal. We’ll come back in two minutes, and we’ll explore that.
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week; I’m Michelle Hill. You know, on this resurrection weekend, Easter weekend, we’ve been talking about dying young.
Here, being Easter weekend, I’m reminded of another Easter weekend not so long ago. It was a week after Easter 2014; it was the last weekend in April. It will be remembered by all who work here at FamilyLife® and many, many who live in central Arkansas.
It was a rainy and stormy day. We had been told to be on alert for tornadoes; but by evening, the storm system seemed to have passed. The tornado sirens died down; the TV reporters were slowly closing up shop. That’s when a tornado ripped through our area, and several of our staff families were deeply affected. One family lost their home; another had significant damage to their property; but one family—they lost so much more.
We were talking about dying young earlier. Well, dying young was Rob Tittle, a coworker of ours, and his two daughters, Tori and Rebekah. It was in that storm that they lost their lives here on earth. We were all shaken to the core. Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine did what good leaders do, and they shepherded their staff through the heartache and loss of what we were feeling. Here’s Bob, addressing the staff of FamilyLife the morning after the tornado.
Bob: I was thinking about it last night and this morning: the reason we grieve at death is because it was not supposed to be this way. We were created by God as eternal beings to dwell with Him in perfect fellowship forever. It is our sin that erected the veil between us and Him. That veil between God and His creation is there separating us from Him eternally, until the work of the Redeemer comes along to tear open the veil from the bottom to the top, and to make a new and living way back into the presence of God.
But what’s true is that—well, it’s what Psalm 116 says: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Rob’s home-going/his passing through the veil last night was precious to God. When those two girls were there with him, that’s precious to the Lord. There was rejoicing in heaven.
We who are left on this side are left angry that death robs us—that the veil is still there—and that it will be a time before we will pass through and be with Him. From His side, He says it will be minutes; from our side, it says it feels like it’s going to be years; but Jesus is on the path.
You know, Jesus was asked about: “How do we deal with tragedy?” Luke, Chapter 13, is where people came to Him and said, “You know about the 18 people who died when the tower of Siloam fell? What are we to make of that, Jesus? Were they somehow more sinful?” Because that was the thought in Jesus’ day: that if tragedy like this struck you, it was evidence that you must have had some secret sin/some hidden sin.
We know that’s not the case. We know that what happened to Rob and the girls last night is not because God was bringing judgment on some secret sin; but that’s what people believed back in Jesus’ day. Jesus’ response to those who asked the question in His day was to turn them back and say, “Every death like this should be a reminder that there is a day ahead for you when you will die.” Every time you see somebody die, it’s a reminder that you will pass through the veil as well.
Here’s the issue: you will pass through that veil either to face a loving God, who welcomes you home as a part of the family, or to face a Judge who will hold you accountable for your unrepentant sin. Every death is a reminder: “Are we right with God?” “Are we right with God?”
The question is: “When the midnight cry comes—whether it’s in death or whether it’s Jesus coming back—are you ready? Is your faith a real faith? Is there real oil in your life?” because you can’t scramble for it in the last minute; that’s what that parable teaches us.
Jesus would say to us: “Yes, Rob is gone. Yes, comfort Kerry. Come alongside; be My hands and feet to her and to the kids as we go forward. But know this: Rob’s times are in My hand.” Last night the tornado was God’s target to take Rob home. I mean, we’re talking about seconds between the time when he would have been in a place of protection; and God said, “No, it’s time. Time for him and for the girls to pass through the veil.” They are happier today than they were yesterday. They are not grieving today as we grieve, and they’re looking forward to being reunited with us when we pass through the veil with the reality of our faith intact.
Jesus would say, “For those who know Me/for those who love Me, be My hands and feet to Kerry and the kids; be My tangible body of Christ on earth. Walk the path with them.” But then He would say, “Examine your own heart and make sure that there is oil in your lamp. Make sure that you’re ready when that day comes, because it will be too late to try to get right when that happens.”
If Rob was here, he would say, “Oh, make sure you’re right. Make sure that we’ll be together for eternity.” It’s important for us to remind ourselves of these things that are true in moments like this.
It’s also important for us to reflect on the life of a brother: who lived a life well, and was an example to us, and reminded us of what faithfulness looks like/of what commitment looks like, of what loving your family well looks like, what working hard looks like. All of these things were true about Rob, and he leaves a hole in our hearts as he goes through the veil. Kerry is not the only one who grieves—she grieves most deeply—but all of us, who knew Rob, grieve at the loss of friendship and relationship that is a temporary loss for us. It’s a temporary loss; it’s not an eternal loss. Now, we walk in faithfulness in the days remaining before we pass through the veil.
The other thing that struck me is that yesterday was a very normal day for the Tittles, until seven o’ clock. Nobody knows if today will be a normal day for you until sometime later. We don’t know the day or the hour that Jesus will call us home or that He’ll come back. That’s why we have to live our lives in a perpetual state of readiness: “Till He returns or calls us home; here in the power of Christ we stand.”
Michelle: “Here in the power of Christ we stand.” Even though we are grieving for a brother and his two children, who were lost during the tornado in 2014, we can still stand in the power of Christ, as Bob Lepine reminded us so effectively.
You know, as we reflect on Easter, a year after the tornado ripped through, I started a tradition of climbing a nearby mountain for Easter sunrise. You can get up at o-dark thirty; you head out to the park. You make sure to take someone with you, because it just is really dark out there. But to sit there and watch the sun rise was such a peaceful thing; the whole world seems perfect at that moment. It’s in that moment that you think, “Well, you just might live forever.”
But what if you realized you didn’t have forever, as Bob said? What if the sky turned black in that moment and the winds picked up? That’s what happened for a lot of these tornado survivors, like my friends, Dan and Kristin Gaffney. The Gaffneys were in the path of that same tornado that had taken Rob Tittle’s life.
Dan remembers that day well. He remembers what he told his children, seconds before the tornado hit. Here’s my friend, Dan Gaffney, remembering his words.
Dan: The sky had gotten just dark black. I’ve always been told that—or you hear it from other people—it seems like the number one thing they use to describe it was it felt like you could hear this train coming. I think that surprised us, probably, more than anything—was we didn’t hear any train noises—anything at all.
I just remember talking to the kids and going, “Guys, it’s going to hit this time. I need to let you know; this is it.” Again, just feeling kind of choked up/could barely talk. But in a fairly calm, but urgent voice, I just went, “If you don’t know where you’re going to spend eternity—I’m going to pray here in a minute—but if you don’t know, you need to get right, right now.” Then we heard the sounds as it was coming.
They’ve heard the gospel message before, but something was different this time. I think, you know, just the urgency of when you’re right in the middle of a tornado, as strong as that one was, yes, it changes your perspective quickly.
Michelle: That’s my friend, Dan Gaffney, remembering the words that he shared with his kids as their house was literally being ripped apart around them by this big tornado.
You might not be in a tornado right now; your life may be going just fine and peaceful, but have you thought through that question?—“Am I right with God? Have I surrendered my life to Christ?”
You know, that big tornado/that big storm system—it took 35 people with it. I was reading through a compilation of the tornado victims and those who were left behind, and one just struck me hard. It was a 22-year-old college senior, who was waiting out the storm in his bathroom. Texts were flying between him and his mom. Then he sent his final message, “Goodbye, Mama.” What was going through his mind?
What about: “Have you considered all that Christ has done on the cross on your behalf?” I want to leave you with more of that Easter passage from Mark 16. This is where Jesus appears to His disciples after the resurrection and shares some very significant words with them.
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed. In My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues, they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them. They will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.”
So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.
Michelle: Did you hear those words that Jesus spoke? “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved.” If you don’t know if you’re saved/if you will enter heaven one day—and you have questions about who this God is, about who this Christ is—I invite you to go to our website, FamilyLifeThisWeek.com. We have a link there called “Two Ways to Live.” It’s a great place to start understanding who this Jesus is and where you life should go from here.
Hey, next week, we’re going to talk about sharing the gospel. How do you talk about Jesus with those you love?—next week on FamilyLife This Week, so I hope you can join us for that.
Hey, thanks for listening! I want to thank the president of FamilyLife®, David Robbins, along with our station partners around the country. A big “Thank you!” to Keith Lynch and our producer, Marques Holt; and Justin Adams is our mastering engineer, and Megan Martin is our production coordinator.
Our program is a production of FamilyLife Today, and our mission is to effectively develop godly families who change the world one home at a time.
I'm Michelle Hill, inviting you to join us again next time for another edition of FamilyLife This Week.
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