Dying to Live
About the Guest
If you knew you would die soon, what would you do? How would you live? Author Tim Kimmel, founder of Family Matters, talks about facing midlife and encourages us to look to Jesus as an example on how to live when facing certain death.
If you knew you would die soon, what would you do?
Dying to Live
Bob: There's an old gospel song that says, "This world is not my home, I'm just a-passin' through." Why is it that most of us believe that but don't live that way? Here's Tim Kimmel.
Tim: I think, for some people, if we told you, "You're going to be dead in three weeks," for some people I think it would cause them to go into depression, preoccupation, gloom, doom. But I got to thinking about a person that I know very well who actually knew He was going to die. Not only did He know He was going to die, He knew when and He knew how. His name is Jesus.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, March 24th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What was the central focus of Jesus' life as He approached His final days of life on earth?
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. When we think about eternal life, we usually think about it starting later. But the reality is that eternal life starts now, right?
Dennis: That's right. John 17:3 says, "And this is eternal life that they may know Thee, the only true God in Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent." In other words, eternal life is a personal relationship with Almighty God through the person of Jesus Christ. That means eternal life doesn't start when you die and go to heaven. Eternal life begins at the moment you come into a personal relationship with the Savior.
Bob: And you don't put off living with an eternal perspective until you reach heaven. We really ought to have an eternal perspective from the moment we come to know Christ.
Dennis: That person who says – and you've heard this excuse many times – "Well, I'm just going to sow my wild oats, and then I'll get serious about my faith and my walk with God." I think that person is in a dangerous place and really needs to take heed to some words that we're going to share with them this week here on FamilyLife Today.
Bob: You've heard people ask the question, "If you knew you were going to die tomorrow," "If you knew you were going to die next year," "If you knew you were going to die in 10 years" – we all know we're going to die, we just don't know when. But the fact that it is coming, and we don't know when, ought to motivate us to live every day with an eternal perspective, and that's what Tim Kimmel challenged our staff with recently. Many of our listeners know Tim as the author of a number of books. He has been a regular guest on FamilyLife Today. He and his wife Darcy speak at our Weekend to Remember conferences, at our Rekindling the Romance one-day conferences for couples, and Tim was in town not long ago and did a chapel for our staff. And his message was about Jesus' perspective on life and death, and here, a few days before Easter, that's a good perspective for us to examine. Let's listen together. Here is part 1 of a message from Dr. Tim Kimmel.
Tim: I went elk hunting once. I was armed with a bow and arrow. Some of you think that's barbaric but, really, it's just an idiot with a stick and a string in his hand running around the woods trying to look like a ficus plant. I really had no clue what I was doing, the elk had home court advantage, and they saw me, the smelled me, they heard me, they knew I was there, and they knew to keep their distance.
I could hear what I felt was laughter a few times – elk laughter. I went out this particular morning, and I realized that I had put on too many layers of clothing because one of the things when you're bowhunting is you have to sit absolutely still. You cannot move, and you're all camouflaged out. You really have to look like the woods, and when you have to many clothes on, you're overheated, and so you squirm and, obviously, that gives you away.
So when I came in at lunchtime I decided I'm going to shed some of these layers and go back out a little more comfortable. Well, I did, and we had parked the car, the Suburban – there were three other men hunting with me – and we parked this car in the meadow, and I went on up into the mountain, and I waited and waited and didn't see or hear anything. And when it started getting late in the afternoon, I realized it was time to get on down into the meadow while I still have light. I worked my way down to the meadow, the car wasn't there, the guys weren't there yet, but I thought there's a lot of reasons why that could be. I'll just stay put and maybe something will come by here, and I'll give them a little surprise. Nothing came by, and no car came back. It got dark. And then I started thinking about the trail I took down, and I realized I took a wrong turn. I knew exactly where I'd made that wrong turn. I'd come down the wrong side of the mountain. That meadow was on the other side of this mountain. I am lost.
It was very dark, and because I couldn't see what I was doing, I was walking along, and I tripped over a root, I think, but I fell headlong, just splashed right down into about six inches of standing water. I mean, I just hit it – full body – it splashed over me and covered me with water. So here I am with no coat, no gloves, soaking wet, and I knew the temperature was going to drop into the 20s. I didn't have any matches. I didn't have a space blanket. I was totally unprepared to spend the night in the woods that night and do you know what? For about three hours I actually thought, "This is how I'm going to die. I'm going to die tonight, frozen to death out here."
It's interesting what you think when you realize you're going to die. It's very interesting. Obviously, I thought about Darcy and the kids, and I realized how angry she's going to be at me. She realizes I'm going to die, but to die this way – I mean, it's so stupid. And, yes, the fear that grips you, all that stuff, it was all real and vivid to me, and then it was interesting – Scripture started coming to the surface, and it just started washing over me – "I will never leave you or forsake you. Cast all your care upon Me, because I care for you." Jesus appeared to me – not visibly, but His presence was clearly there. He wrapped His arms around me, and I sensed He was there with me, and He says, "Tim, I know right where you are, I know exactly the conditions you're in, do not worry. I'm going to get you through this."
So I shifted my head that "You're not going to die tonight. You're going to be very sick tomorrow, but you're not going to die tonight," so I realized I had to make a plan, and so I made that plan, primitive as it was, and I started to work on that plan. And at 3:30 in the morning, I walked into my camp. There were two guys asleep in the tent, just snoring away, having a great time. One was still out there, and so I started heading down the road in the direction I figured he would be, and about 15 minutes down that road, sure enough, I came upon him in the car, and he was so glad to see me. He'd been out looking the whole time.
When I turned 40, I did not respond well to that birthday. I remember that was another time when I started thinking about dying. In fact, I was out to dinner with Darcy, and we were in a restaurant that was rather middle-of-the-road because it had paper napkins. So you can write on them and draw on them, and we had ordered our food, and she was just looking at what other people were ordering, and just looking around, and I was drawing, and I drew what I thought was a pretty good rendition of a casket. And I said to her, I said, "Darcy, how many people does it take to carry one of these things?" She said, "Six, eight – I think eight." I said, "Okay, if I died tonight, who would you call? Who would my pallbearers be?"
She named one right away – she named another and another, and then she started filling in the blanks with my brothers. I said, "No, no, no, they don't count. They're my brothers, they have to be there. They're required to be there. They're my brothers. I want to know who you would call that would drop whatever they're doing to come and drop me." And I realized that I did not have all my pallbearers accounted for. Now, I had many, many friends, but I didn't have those ones that stick closer than a brother – those ones that you invest your life in so much that they would move anything to be there with you when you needed them the most.
And so I've been spending that time ever since then grooming my pallbearers, pouring my life into those people up close to me that she can call. By the way, who do you think the first one she named was – that guy out looking for me; his name is Corey. That was the first one that came out of her mouth.
I want to ask you something – if you found out today that you are dying, and that your time is very limited, maybe they could give you a specific time, and you're going to die. You're going to be gone. How would that impact you? How would that change the way you're making decisions right now? I think for some people, if we told you, "You're going to be dead in three weeks," for some people I think it would cause them to go into depression, and a lot of foreboding, preoccupation, gloom, doom, and so forth.
But I got to thinking about a person that I know very well who actually knew He was going to die. Not only did He know He was going to die, He knew when and He knew how. And yet, against that backdrop, He made deliberate choices in His life that I think we could all learn from and maybe mimic in the way we live our lives, and His name is Jesus. He knew exactly when He was going to die and, more importantly, He knew how.
Against the backdrop of His imminent death, I think it just gave Jesus a greater respect for time. It gave Him a greater respect for time, and He wanted to use it for things that are more important than time. Example – He didn't get angry when His time didn't go the way He planned. Do you? Matthew, chapter 14, starting in verse 13 – His cousin and dear friend, John the Baptist, has just been beheaded, and Jesus had been informed of this. Now, keep in mind, it says Jesus, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, and just like you would feel bad if one of your colleagues in this room died. Okay, so you have that grief, but what if it's also a relative? And also one who had just put everything on the line for you? Don't you think it's time to go off and grieve, and that's exactly what Jesus needed. He needed to go off and grieve and nurse His grief.
And so He said to the guys, "We've got to get out of here. I need to be by myself." But then listen to this – Jesus heard what had happened. He withdrew by a boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed Him on foot from the towns, and when Jesus landed, He saw a large crowd. He had compassion on them, and He healed their sick. In fact, if you read on, He also fed them – this is the 5,000. He fed with that kid's Happy Meal Deal thing, you know? I mean, He had a right to say to his handlers, "Hey, send these people away. I need to be by myself," but no, no, no. He was dying, He was running out of time, and He wanted to use His time to do things that lasted forever.
He used time to do things that would outlive him. I look at how many people want to put their spiritual life on cruise control once they get some gray hair. I see this in the church all the time. They think, "Well, I have done my duty on the elder board or the deacon board. I've been teaching Sunday school. Now it's time for me to get in my camper, and I'm just going to spend my Sundays just out sitting around by the lake with a line in the water." Now, listen, something we all need to remember – heaven is when we die. It is not here, it is not now, it is when we die. Don't try and set it up now. God says, "I'm going to give it to you for eternity, okay?" That's a pretty long time. Up next to what you're here, I mean, this is not even a dot on a linear timeframe. So this isn't that long.
"Serve me, make difference" – and you know what? When it comes to the time He didn't let the urgent take priority over the important. He knew when it was time to party. If we were setting up the Christian movement, and we got our 12 executive VPs, I think it's time for some conscience of prayer and some strategic planning. Jesus said, "No, we're going to a wedding. I have some friends that are getting married. You've got to go. We're going to have a great time," and that's when He did His first miracle.
Not only did He have a greater respect for time, He had a higher regard for people, and I think against the backdrop of His imminent death, it just gave Him an incredible higher regard for people. He saw their intrinsic value even when they couldn't see it themselves. I love that story in John, chapter 1, verse 35 and following. Andrew has met Jesus, and he is so excited about Jesus, he goes to find his brother, Simon. He says, "You've got to meet this guy. I think we've found the Messiah." And so Jesus finally meets Simon, and He says, "Simon, Simon, that's not your name. I'm going to call you 'the rock.' I'm going to call you Peter, the rock."
Now, what's the big deal about that? What does Simon mean? It means vacillator. His nickname was vacillator. In the modern vernacular, we call him a "flip-flopper." He says, "You have a reputation of being a flip-flopper. I see something bigger and greater in you. I'm going to call you 'the rock.'" And guess what Peter did for the rest of Jesus' ministry? He flip-flopped on Him. He vacillated, didn't he? And Jesus kept seeing the greater good in him. No wonder Peter openly followed Him. You know, when it came to people, Jesus consistently looked out for the downtrodden and the disenfranchised. He consistently looked out for the downtrodden and the disenfranchised, the people that are demon-possessed in the Bible; the paralytic; the people with leprosy; folks like Zacheus and the sinful woman. These people represented the desperate, the helpless, the hopeless, and the outcasts, and Jesus wanted to spend His time on earth reaching out to them.
And here is what's interesting – they are all around us. We encounter them almost daily, if you are out and about. They are everywhere. Do you notice them?
So He goes, and there was this young businessman, a very exciting guy who was doing very well in business, and he had all the trappings. He went out and rewarded his efforts with a brand-new Jaguar. Maybe you heard this story – a brand-new Jaguar, and he was going from one appointment to the other, going through this kind of section of town where there was just nobody at street level – not a great section of town. All of a sudden, as he is coming down this one street, this little kid came out from between two cars, took a brick, and just threw it at his car and gashed his car.
The guy hit his brakes, and he came out, and he looked at the dent he made, and he said, "What were you thinking? Why did you do that? Look what you've done to my car." And the little boy has got these tears in the corners of his eyes, and he's whimpering, and he said, "Oh, sir, I'm so sorry, but around the corner, my brother, he's in a wheelchair, he's bigger than me, and he hit a crack, and it fell over, and he's burning on the concrete, and I can't get him up." And the guy came around and, sure enough, there's this poor kid down there struggling, and he righted the wheelchair and picked the boy up and put him in the wheelchair, and the little boy took his brother, and said, "I'm sorry about your car," and then he just started wheeling off.
The guy came back and looked at this dent in his car, and he made a decision right there and then that he was not going to repair that dent. He says, "I don't want to be going through life so fast that I don't notice things at street level that God has to throw a brick at me to get my attention, and I want this to remind me, you don't have to throw a brick at me, God, I'm looking."
Are we paying attention? Jesus did everywhere He went.
Bob: We've been listening to part 1 of a message from Dr. Tim Kimmel, and as he was talking there, Dennis, I was thinking about – I've been teaching through the book of Isaiah in my Sunday school class, and just recently we were in Isaiah, chapter 42, and the prophet says to the people of Israel "Hear you, Deaf, and look you, Blind, that you may see – who is blind but my servant? Who is so deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is so blind that he is at peace with me or so blind as the servant of the Lord?"
I stopped and pondered those verses, and I thought is it possible to be a blind and deaf servant of the Lord? I think it's possible for all of us to be distracted from what we ought to be paying attention to and not paying attention to what the Lord would have us pay attention to. I used the illustration, I said, "Imagine you ran a newspaper, and you sent a reporter out to cover a basketball game, and the reported got distracted by the cheerleaders. He got so distracted by the cheerleaders that he came back, and he didn't know who had won the game, he couldn't tell you about any of the important plays, couldn't tell you who fouled out, couldn't give you the score. You'd fire him because he wasn't paying attention to what he ought to pay attention to, he was distracted."
I think a lot of us wind up distracted to what we ought to be paying attention to, which is God's purpose on planet earth, God's agenda, God's plan. We get distracted and wind up deaf and blind to the important spiritual things that ought to characterize our lives.
Dennis: And to live an entire life like that is a wasted life, period. Think about the end of your life. Do you want to arrive at the finish line and have someone say to you, "You know what? You really were distracted. You had idols, you had other loyalties but, for the most part, you really ignored the One who made you, the One who loves you; the One who wants to give you life.
There's a lot of choices before each of us today. You, as a listener, are going to have some choices to make. Perhaps you are facing some very serious choices about your marriage, about a child, a relationship. God calls you to walk by faith in obedience to Him.
Bob: This week as we think about the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, we want to encourage any listener who has never made a commitment of his life to Christ, we want to challenge you to take that bold step and commit your life to Christ and contact us and let us send you a copy of a book that we have called "Pursuing God." It lays out clearly what it means for a man to be in a right relationship with God, and what it means to follow after Christ. We'll send it to you as our gift. There's no cost associated with it. You can call 1-800-FLTODAY to request a copy. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
You can also get more information about the book online at FamilyLife.com, and while you're there you can also get information about a couple of very helpful books that deal with the reality of the resurrection of Christ. There's Josh McDowell's book, "Evidence That Demands a Verdict." That's a classic book, and then Lee Strobel has come out with a very helpful book called "The Case for Easter," and we have both of those books in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and if you order both of them, we'll send at no additional cost the CD or the cassette of the message from Tim Kimmel that we're featuring this week on FamilyLife Today.
Get more information online at FamilyLife.com or give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY, and those of you who are planning to take part this weekend in the World's Largest Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt, if you still have anything you need to get ready for the hunt, you can find most of what you're looking for at the Family Christian Store near you. That's our World's Largest Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt headquarters this year. Or contact us directly here at FamilyLife. You can get more information on our website or give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY.
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Well, tomorrow we're going to hear part 2 of this message from Tim Kimmel that reminds us to live with an eternal perspective. I hope you can be back with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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