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Fearlessly & Boldly Embracing Life & Death
When life is over and you are coming to the end, will you, as many have done, look back and wonder why you didn’t live instead of going through life with fear and trembling? You can, as the title indicates, go through life fearlessly & boldly embracing life & death, and by so doing focus on the purpose of your life instead of reacting to all the negativism with unfounded fear. Read on and I’ll show you what I mean.
Fearlessly and boldly embrace life
It was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That was in 1931 when America was struggling with the worst depression the nation had ever experienced. What did Roosevelt mean by that statement? Let’s put it in context. Here is an excerpt from his inaugural address in 1931. You will notice that the circumstances back them match many of our present day ones:
I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.
In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.
More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.
Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.
Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.
Here are some of my observations as to what he meant by that statement, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” First, he says that we are not to hide from our problems or deny them, but to boldly face them and not to shrink from them. Second, he says that being fearful of fear is the “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” In other words if we let fear paralyze us, how are we going to advance the cause? Fear produces retreat instead of advancement! Most of our fear is based on unreasoning, unjustified terror. 95% of those things we fear never happen, and the 5% that does usually has a solution. Third, he says, “In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. Thank God it is only material things.” Sure material things are important but there are far more important matters. For example, America has yet to face the problem of starvation even in the great depression, for which we are to be thankful. Forth, he says, “Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for.” Even in this worst of times Roosevelt reminds that there were others who bravely faced much worst and had faith and persevered and were not afraid. Fifth, he says, “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” Too often we get our focus off our purpose and become fixated on money and material things only. Boldly embracing life means to live your life with the purpose that your are here for, taking all things in stride without fear. President Roosevelt coined that phrase, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He was so right because it is the fear of fear itself that robs us of our peace and holds us back from gaining the solutions we need to overcome our problems. We all must face a mountain of problems in life, but boldly meeting the challenges and gaining the victories is what gives life its zest. It’s the climb! Remember that the joy of life comes from the climb, not reaching the summit of the mountain.
Boldly embracing death
I’ve conducted a lot of funerals as a minister in my lifetime, and I discovered that it was those who had not learned to boldly embrace death who lost all composure at the death of love ones and who needed to depend on sedation to make it through. Life and death go together. Both are the greatest events we face. Life is the time to fulfill our purpose while on earth, and death is the time to take the next step into our eternal existence. The Bible assures us that death and the grave are not to be feared, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (I Corinthians 15:55). However, the Bible is addressing believers here. For unbelievers, I’m sorry to say, there is much to be feared.
I’ve always admired the courage of our American fighting men and women who bravely go to war against the enemy. They have often sacrificed their life to enable the rest of us to live in peace and security. I’m truly thankful for each and every one of them. Before each one of them went into battle they had to face the fact that they may never return alive. They indeed had to boldly embrace death.
Our society has tried to ease the fear of death by renaming all the elements surrounding it. Instead of saying someone died we say they passed away. We no longer refer to an undertaker, but he is now a funeral director. The coffin is now a casket. The grave is called the internment. The cemetery is called the memorial gardens. We cover the casket with beautiful flowers. But death is still just as real.
There is a grave plot at a nearby cemetery where the remains of my dear wife lie. On the grave marker engraved in bronze are the inscriptions of her name, date of birth and the date of her death. To the left of it is my name and date of birth with the date of death blank. Each time I visit the grave site I’m reminded that one day my remains will lie there and the date of death will be filled in. You might be thinking, well I would not go there to be reminded. No, it’s not a bad thing when you are able to boldly embrace death; it’s actually of no consequence. In fact I feel blessed when I go there that God has extended my life for a little while so that I may complete my purpose before I stand before him to give account for my life.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture is a statement made by the Apostle Paul, “For me to live is Christ and for me to die is gain.” That is the best example I know of which fully embraces death. Paul is saying what I’ve been saying above along with Theodore Roosevelt. The primary purpose of life is finding our purpose and fulfilling that purpose. For Paul his purpose was helping others to learn the good news of Christ. Death meant to Paul gaining a much better existence in heaven. For you and me, after our life’s work is done, when death comes we can embrace it knowing it is now time to gain a new existence in God’s heaven which is not to be compared with this present life.
I would be remiss if I indicated that heaven was for everyone. It isn’t; it is for those for whom it is prepared; those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and savior. To those Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John14:1-4).
I’ve written this to you today because it is my purpose to tell you things that can transform your life. One of the greatest things is overcoming the fear of living and dying and learning to really begin to live, and commence the task of fulfilling the deepest purpose of our life. The reason that this works so well is that by fulfilling our purpose it overshadows most everything else, even the problems we face; it becomes more important than our problems. Also when we have a relationship with God to whom we belong, we can rest in peace knowing that He who watches over Israel is also watching over us also. We can then boldly embrace life and death; even death which is most dreaded by so many becomes a time of embarking upon a new phase of our existence; rather than the end it is a new beginning. I hope that this article has helped you, if so let me know in the comment section below. Also I invite you to discover your own relationship with God. It’s the only way you can ever fully embrace death as well as clarifying your purpose in life.
PS: You might want to read one of my other latest articles: “Is Heaven a Real Place?” A prominent Neurosurgeon, who taught in Harvard’s Medical School, claims to have gone there during a time when he was in a comma, and says it has changed his whole perspective on life.
Jimmie Burroughs: Founder of Christian personal development.
About the author: Jimmie Burroughs is a motivational speaker and author who has been involved in teaching Christian Personal Development for more than 30 years. There are hundreds of articles to help you on this website, Website Contents , in your person growth. If I can help you personally, please send your concerns via: Contact me.
Website DIVISIONS (Over 600 articles to help you to grow in every facet of your life)
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