DayBreaks for 06/20/09: Receiving a Death Sentence
From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:
I always find video clips of court sessions where the defendant receives a death sentence interesting. It is the expression, or lack thereof, on the face of the defendant that interests me. Sometimes there is no reaction, sometimes they are stunned, at other times they have a very strong physical reaction. I have often wondered how it must feel to them at that moment when the sentence is read.
Last week, my beloved boxer, Casper had a close call. We were going out for our daily walk to the mailbox to get the bills and junk mail. We’d barely walked out of the garage and he collapsed and struggled to get back up. After a few seconds that seemed like hours, he gave up struggling and lay in my arms. I felt for his heartbeat and could feel nothing. He stopped breathing. I was at first puzzled, hinking perhaps he’d hurt his hind leg, but then the reality hit me: injured legs don’t stop hearts or breathing. And my worst fear came to mind: that Casper, like the last boxer I had before him, had dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart). It is a relatively common problem in boxers and it had taken Ramses’ life when he was just 5 years old. All I could think to do with Casper was hold him, talk to and pet him, and then it hit me: do CPR and see if you can get his heart beating and lungs working again. So, I thumped him on the ribcage a few times, gave him a few breaths of air, and (praise God!) he came back. Today, you’d never know anything happened by looking at him or watching him.
We took him to the vet who ran tests. I expected to hear the worst – to hear a death sentence pronounced on my beloved dog: “Casper has dilated cardiomyopathy.” But instead, the vet said that the heart looked good, the EKG was perfectly normal. So, the cause of the collapse remains a mystery. It made me think, however, about death sentences.
It was the apostle Paul who referred to the sentence of death in 2 Cor. 1:9-10 (NIV): Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us…”
In context, Paul is describing the sufferings they endured in order to preach the gospel. I believe that when we were born, we all received a sentence of death due to our sin nature. If you are born a human, you are born with that sentence hanging over your head. You can’t avoid it by having your parents sign some kind of waiver. The only way to avoid the death sentence is to be given a full and complete pardon by the Judge. As Paul put it, we have been given the sentence of death so that we will rely on God rather than our own wiles and cleverness or our ability to excuse or argue that we’re not guilty of sin. God has pronounced sentence: The soul that sins shall die and The wages of sin is death.
The problem is that we often fail to remember that we are under a death sentence until Christ gives us the reprieve and grants us real life. Casper will die someday. I will die someday. But by God’s incredible grace, I shall live again.
Prayer: Father, death is such an enemy. You have told us that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift You offer us is life through Christ Jesus. May we consciously live in the awareness that all that is in this created world is passing away, including our physical bodies, and that we need the breath of Life more than we could ever imagine. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>