my story. the beginning.

 

You see, I grew up with only the fairy tales. I grew up with the finger’s – crossed and the blown up Easter Bunnies and Santa Clause coming to town, and also the tooth fairy – but the fears and the insecurities and then anger rooted itself so deep in me-that there was no way out.

All the believing I was doing was only in things like a vapor in a cloud.

When I reached for what I thought had substance to hold on to, it would simply vanish into thin air.

I moved  away from my home in Arizona to NYC, and the ‘mess’ that was inside me was working its way to destroy every bit of life in me, the ‘mess’ manifested itself in an eating disorder. My life became unmanageable.

I wasn’t seeking God. I wasn’t thinking about God – but He knew me and He was watching me. So, in desperation, one day, I walked into a room filled with people with the same struggle and I read a poster on the wall- it only had one word on it- written in large letters: GOD.

The mystery? That written word on the wall was the beginning of the rest of my life.

You see, I needed something that had substance to hold on to – all the other stuff was vapor.

I knew all the things that I needed to do. But, I had no power to do them.The one thing I finally knew was, I couldn’t get it right alone.

I needed help.

Somehow, on that day, I realized that GOD was the help I needed. I knew then and there that my only hope was Him.

I didn’t need some ‘religion’ or  ‘going through the motions.’ I needed a Savior.

I actually owned a Bible that was given to me in High School by the Key Club. I had packed it with me in my move from Arizona to NYC. Doesn’t everyone need to pack a Bible when moving from your hometown to NYC as a 19 year old?

I had an eating disorder. I was ‘crazy in the head always thinking I was fat, always thinking of eating or how to work off every calorie I had eaten.  My thoughts in my brain felt like I was at the circus spinning in a hundred directions with scary clowns and music with confusion and destruction everywhere.

I had no peace.

I had the goals. I had the ‘how to’ books. But I had no control over my life.

I hope no one reading this can identify. Label me perhaps, an addictive personality. But now, I was hungry for God.

I was sick of being sick. I was finally ready to find the exit door to the  insanity I was living, hidden behind pretty smiles, (but perhaps not.)

I remember reading one verse in particular, Jesus said it,“If any man come after Me, let him deny himself…” (Matthew 16:24).  And God  impressed upon my heart this thought, “Toni, you are destroying yourself with this impulsive – compulsive behavior. I want you to deny yourself of that – because I want to give you a life that is free and full.

And it was that one verse, “If any man come after Me, let him deny himself, … As  I was learning how to eat without  ‘great panic’ ,and ‘denying myself ‘ the destructive behavior that occupied so much of my mental brain, time and energy, God had me focus on the next part of the verse: “pick up your cross…” And even though I didn’t really understand what ‘pick up your cross’ meant, God started helping me understand this simply to mean, ‘not my will but God’s’ .

This is what He wanted me to remember , that ‘picking up my cross was,’ Not my will that wanted to destroy all the good, but God’s will’ which was to love me and give me life and even abundant at that.

He wanted me to have joy.

God began to heal my angry spirit. I learned to continue to “follow Him” (Matthew 16:24), and not my own crazy roller coaster path, to the best of my ability. He drew me to Himself. And through time, He healed me completely, He saved me from the ‘self-destructive’ road I was traveling on, He raised me up from a pit and set my feet on a Rock.

He unveiled Himself in His word.

“Call unto Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not of.”(Jeremiah 33:3). He did for me, and He still is, day by day.

And the reason I tell my story.  Because I want you to know that He did, and to be reminded that…

 Nothing is impossible with God. (Matthew 17:20).

 

 

Encouragement again, “Just think of your eye…”

Needing reminders from a speech from a young college graduate on graduation day…”I would like to say that now that we have our degree, we will not run into problems that we can’t handle, but truthfully no matter the type of degree, the number of years of experience, no matter the location, the support groups, the family, or the friendships, there will always come a time when we just don’t know the answer. It’s inevitable, so I want to encourage you with a little anatomy lesson.

Did you know that there are 47 different structures that make up the human eye that all have a unique function? Did you know that there are 6 extra-ocular muscles, 4 cranial nerves, and 1.2 million nerve fibers in each optic nerve? Did you know that when light waves touch my eye, without even thinking about it I blink to protect them from too much exposure? And when the amount of light changes, my pupillary -light response reacts without a thought so that only the right amount of light is let into my eye.

Did you know that there are four out of twelve cranial nerves that work specifically for the eye so that they can not only allow me to focus on a object and read it but also so that they can move in different directions. There are 9 different structures that all play a specific role in receiving light messages before they even get to the brain! And it is not until those messages get to the occipital lobe of the brain that I can interpret what I am actually seeing.

The eyes receive millions of light waves and messages everyday, but my brain has a specific area that let’s only the important and significant messages through so that the brain doesn’t get over-stimulated.

And did you know that the God who told me to cast all my cares upon Him, and that He will never leave me nor forsake me, that I should be anxious for nothing, was the very One who designed this whole system and hundreds like it so that we can live and move and breathe every second.

And did you know that He didn’t have to lift a finger and didn’t sweat a drop to think of it, He just breathed on one man and He said that He knit us together and formed us in our mother’s womb before you were even a thought in her mind.

And now you tell me, what are you worried about?  What will you be worried about when you come up to those hurdles that are bound to cross you path? I want you to think of your eye and tell me, that your situation, your problem, your worry is TOO big for the GOD who created you and the world you live in to handle…” ( Carolyn Rypkema at Lamplighting Ceremony at PBAU May 3,2012).

So I respond today, with a child-like poem so I can remember: “When I take a little moment, just to think of my eye, and ponder all the facts that we know – my anxious heart is put to rest and now my thoughts are put to test, to choose to trust and let go. To ‘let go’ of worry and strife, pain, and fear, and to think of my eye! ’cause then I remember  – He knows everything! He knows…  much more than I.”

A child’s version…

In this fast paced, often overcomplicated and crazy time that we live, sometimes the Love letter written so long ago by our Father who loves the world and gave His most precious possession to suffer for us, tells it best in a ‘child’s version’.

Because, if we are to ‘hold firmly to the hope that we confessed’, believing in God, and being taught that ‘we can trust God to do what He promised,’ (Heb. 10:23), then we ‘best know’ His promises. But when things get all topsy-turvy and complicated and messy, it’s hard to REMEMBER! And we ask, “What did He promise? What did He say? But, I don’t have time today…”

Take time today, to hear what He says, in a child’s version and tuck this away in your heart to keep you ‘cool’ through the ‘heat’ and ‘tribulations’ of your day. We get so ‘dirty’ from the filth of the world and we don’t know where to go to be ‘cleaned’. His love letter tells us: “We have been cleansed and made free from feelings of guilt.”(Hebrews 10:22). but how? do you remember? “Surely you know. Surely you have heard. Surely in the beginning someone told you…” (Is. 40:21a).

But today, I remind you, as I have been reminded in His Love Letter written long ago, but first I pray, “God speak to me. I do know, and ‘surely, I have heard’, but can You remind me again…

“The first agreement had rules for worship. And it had a man-made place for worship, The Holy Tent was set up for this. The first area in the Tent was called the Holy Place…(Heb. 9:1,2). “Behind the second curtain was a room called the most Holy Place.(Heb. 9:3).

“…The priests went into the first room every day to do their worship. But only the high priest could go into he second room, and he did that only once a year. He could never enter the inner room without taking blood with him. He offered that blood to God for himself and for the people’s sins. These were the sins people did without knowing that they were sinning.” (Heb. 9:6-7).

“Is this really important to know for today?” I ask in my head. Then God speaks:  “This is an example for the present time. It shows that the gifts and sacrifices offered cannot make the worshiper perfect in his heart…(Heb. 9:9).

We know that in our hearts and minds. We know that ‘religious duty’ can’t free us from our guilt! But what can?

“…But Christ has come as the high priest of the good things we now have. The tent he entered is greater and more perfect. It is not made by men. It does not belong to his world. Christ entered the Most Holy Place only once – and for all time. He did not take with him the blood of goats and calves. His sacrifice was his own blood. He entered the Most Holy Place and set us free from sin forever.” (Heb. 9:12).

“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a cow are sprinkled on the people who are unclean and this makes their bodies clean again. How much more is done by the blood of Christ. He offered Himself through the eternal Spirit as a perfect sacrifice to God.” (Heb. 9:3,14.)

“Those who are called by God can now receive the blessings that God has promised. These blessings will last forever.” (Heb. 9:15).

The word is such good news. It is such a refreshing shower of hope and grace and love. And even though I don’t have time for more, I am now made ‘hungry’ for more!

“Wait, there is something about hungering in His Love letter. What was that promise again?Yes, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6).

So, just a few minutes ‘being reminded’, not only makes me clean, but also ‘filled’!

I love God’s Love Letter to me. It’s for all the children of the world…and it’s even written in a child’s version!

Thank you God for keeping it simple for Your children.

John 1:12, “And to as many as received Him, to them He gave right to become children of God…”

Just so you know…

What the ‘world’ wants: what’s best at the time, be it truth or a lie. A name today, to be chewed up and later, spit out.
What Jesus wants: …only you – the good, the bad, and the ugly. To love and to cherish, when better or worse, when sick or happy, rich or poor – and He calls you His, forever.
However, you have to change your name to ‘whosoever!’ John 3:16.
-Toni Rypkema
Why would I write this? Because when I was very sick from a chemo treatment that I thought was going to kill me, I felt the death in my bone marrow, but I saw no lights. Only a door, and it opened in the darkness and I saw His nail-pierced hands. Then the words: “Not all know me as their King.” entered my mind.

I would never change this moment for anything. God let me live! I am so thankful, so in loving My King, I’ve got to let you know!

66 books in the Bible all condensed into one verse: “For God so loved you that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16, with the word ‘you’ instead of the  word ‘world’. But it’s true. God loved the world, so He gave…to whosoever! Please let it be you, meaning plural, meaning …all!

God is love…

God is love. 1John 4:8.

The real question is, are we willing to believe it?

It’s not easy when you are hurting. I remember hearing words of a song many years ago, “If you don’t have a willing heart, then ask Him to give you one.” Oh, I knew I didn’t have a willing heart…to forgive,

to let go,

to trust God

to see the good,

to look on the good side.

There was too much pain, too much hurt and loss. I knew that I did’t have a willing heart, and I knew I wasn’t ready to ask Him to give me one.

I ‘tried’ to forgive, to let go, all of those things, and just couldn’t. But then there was a day, and  I knew – I was  finally ready to ask Him, “Lord, give me a willing heart. A willing heart to let go of the hurt and the pain, to let go of the past and move forward, God give me a willing heart!”

C.H. Spurgeon helped me to begin to understand something about all my personal pain and loss with a poem he wrote,“God in Israel sows the seeds Of affliction, pain, and toil; Trials make the promise sweet; Trials give new life to prayer; Trials bring me to His feet, Lay me low, and keep me there.” (Beside Still Waters, CH Spurgeon).

Perchance, the flower could talk to the seed…

“What do you mean, I must die before my expiration date?” asked the seed tucked carefully in it’s package.

“Well, that’s only if you don’t want to remain alone and undisturbed forever.” answered the flower. “But, you are actually a ‘promise’ a promise of beauty. If you want to live, you must die, and it all has to happen before that expiration date as I said. After that, it is too late.”

“That’s ‘poppy-cock!’ answered the poppy seed. “I just don’t believe it. Please, be quiet. You are really disturbing me!”

“Well, since you mentioned it, ‘poppies’ I mean, clearly you can see that we are both ‘poppies.’ You are a poppy and I am a poppy. But, can you see any difference in me and you? Any at all?” asked the flower to the seed.

“Hey, I’ll get there, there are many ways to flower you know. I have a plan!” answered the seed.

“O.K. I hear you. But ‘when’, … I mean, ‘if’ your plan is unsuccessful, will you just listen once, to this idea?” asked the flower.

“If it means you will leave me alone, I will listen this once. Go on and talk all about that morbid stuff  and ‘dying’ and all.” The seed responded, dully.

“It’s quite simple.  If you ‘deny yourself’ your own way and simply ‘fall into the ground’, you will die. Yes, but that’s not the end! That’s just the beginning, the beginning of all the Promise. But if you simply remain in that package that seams to make so much sense to you, you will always be wondering, “What is my purpose?” “Why am I even here?” But in your ‘tiny bit of nothing’ is so, so, so much more- more than meets the eye right now. But you must first, fall into the ground and die.” explained the flower.

“Ho,hum.” yawned the seed.

“But then, something amazing begins to happen,” continued the flower,”after the death of you, that is- but before that expiration date scheduled on the package – you become alive. Yes, in the darkness AND the dirt – you become alive! I’m telling you, it’s true! It’s not ‘poppy-cock’ its life for the poppy! Don’t ask me a lot of scientific questions, because I’m not a scientist, I’m a Testimony! I’m telling you, that if you die, you will rise again. Everything in that ‘deadness’ springs to Life and reaches forth into the Light and absorbs the Living Water and becomes Beauty.”

“I will consider what you said. I’m not really in a hurry now. I think I have some time…” answered the seed. Only to fall asleep and miss that planting season. Only to be forever…alone.

Jesus is speaking: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me…As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love…If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you.” John 15:4,9, 7.

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” John 12:24.

“I’m not a scientist, I’m just a Testimony!”

What if everything I believe isn’t true?

Hypothetically, I have been thinking of late, “What if everything I believe in – the Father God, Jesus, His Son who came to earth as a baby to die on the cross to pay a huge debt I owed, and believing what I’ve been told that the big problem in this world is really ‘sin’ and what I’ve read that Jesus rose from the dead, and that He gave those who believe the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide and remind them of what’s true-WHAT IF ALL THAT WASN’T TRUE?

So, what I mean to say is, what if on that rainy day in NYC, 32 years ago, when my mind was like a chaotic carnival, after spending days, months and even years – spinning in a frantic mess about ‘I have to do this,’ ‘I have to prove that,’ ‘I have to show them this’, ‘I have to make it happen somehow;’  with a full measure of insecurity and fear continually flowing through that mental pressure, not to mention that all of this was soaked in an angry spirit about ‘life’ in general- what if on that day, (which happened to be Palm Sunday),  when I actually walked into a church and sat in a pew and prayed, “God, if Jesus is Your Son, then show me,” and I SUDDENLY had ‘direction’-what harm is that to me?

To think that from that day, as I was dressed in my black pumps and black polka-dotted dress with my curly hair all short, looking like ‘Bette Boop’, living on my own (with no intention of marriage and especially having children), trying to ‘BE’ what everyone expected me to be – from that one day, most likely the ‘first day of the rest of my life’,perhaps not even saying the ‘right words’ to salvation and all that, but God met me that day and answered my prayer.  All of a sudden, I knew what I had to do! So I did it. I went and bought an easy to read paraphrased Bible and I started reading God’s word. This is all true. This is what happened. Did I all of a sudden have direction from my own intuition? NO! I had tried on my own intuition over and over again- but this time, not really  ‘knowing’ God, and especially, not knowing Jesus-

but knowing one thing-  that I needed a Savior. So, I got dressed up and went to church, I didn’t really hear all that was said, but I talked to God there, just Him and me, and I asked Him, “If Jesus is Your Son, then show me.” And the next thing I knew, I was going into a book store to buy a Bible.

Did I still have an eating disorder? Yes, it took time to overcome. Did I still have a mind like a chaotic carnival? Yes, naturally I (still)do. Was I still insecure? Yes. But something was different in me. This is my story. All I know is, God put a hunger in my heart for Him, and more and more of Him, so I read that Bible-and it wasn’t just a book. This book was transforming me.

All I know is, I tried every way on my own, to fill something empty inside me, but something happened to me on that day, when I was tired of ‘walking in circles’ with chaos wringing in my ears; ‘the world tasted sweet, but then it tasted sour’, so I prayed to God in desperation, from my heart, and He heard my prayer and gave me direction, a straight path, no more circles, and  He showed me the Way, He set my feet upon a Rock.He taught me how to eat, He showed me that I WAS someone; I was His child.

“Well, that’s good for you.” you might say. “Most certainly yes!” I will say!

But what if all I believe in IS true, and all the promises that the Father wrote to His children are true? What if it IS true, that “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12). God wants us to know it’s all true  – about Jesus.

“Well, thanks for your story, but I can have faith without all the ‘Jesus’ stuff.” you might say.

 I completely understand where you are coming from! But if you happen to be talking  to God about having faith, He’ll answer you! And He’ll show you, just like He did me, that you can have faith ‘by hearing, hearing the word of God.” (Romans 10:17).

Hey, but let’s imagine that it’s not true: Something happened, one Palm Sunday, many many years ago, and I was changed from the inside out. I needed a Family, and I believe I became a child of God the Father, when I asked about the Son.  God showed me the day I asked, because I needed joy, among many other things, and He showed me, everything I need is in His Son. And, I believe that Jesus helped me overcome obsessive behavior, and that He helps me know what to do with my anger, and that daily He helps me overcome insecurity and fear. So, about the ‘Jesus’ question? God’s not pacing the floors worried about that, because He knows,  when a person REALLY wants to know Him, they end up reading a Book! And yes, in every page of that Good Book, is Jesus! 

I believe it’s ALL true, because I have been changed! God welcomes questions, this I know is true,  so ask Him from a true heart, He’ll answer you…

True worship satisfies the most desperate, with an answer from the Lord…

The Cananite woman in Matthew 15:21-28, needed a miracle for her daughter, and she had heard how the Jews had cried out to Jesus,and they were healed, so she used their same formula and cried out the same words, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David! My daughter is severely demon possessed.”

But Jesus answered her not a word.”

She began to bother the disciples by her constant crying, and they went to Jesus and literally said,(today’s English) “Lord, send her away, she’s so annoying.”

Did this woman turn away? No! Did she give up? No! This woman was desperate for the Lord. This woman turned to worship Him.  There was nothing left, nowhere else to go,”…she came and worshiped Him saying,”Lord, help me!”Matthew 15:25.

Jesus answered her like this,” It is not good to take the children’s  bread and throw it to the little dogs,”(vs. 26), basically saying, “I have come for the lost sheep of Israel,” (namely the Jews).  This woman turned to worship Him.  Jesus appeared to be cold and hard, but He actually was not, He was waiting…

because it’s not about the ‘right words’ to say, it’s not about even the ‘right position’ to be in, it’s about the attitude of the heart – it is when she came and worshiped Him…

So, the woman answered, “True, Lord,  yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”(vs. 27). “Then Jesus answered her…”

Yes, Jesus answered her as she worshiped, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”(Matthew 15:28). God’s love IS patient and kind.

What am I doing? Am I turning away? O how I need to turn to the One who loves, even the outcasts, even the ‘dogs’.He is not cold and hard hearted, He’s waiting for our hearts to turn toward Him, and worship Him. No more ‘walking in circles’, “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold; I’d rather be His than have riches untold; I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands. I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.”

“Than to be the king of a vast domain Or be held in sin’s dread sway. I’d rather have Jesus than anything This world affords to-day.”

“I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause; I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause; I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame. I’d rather be true to His holy name. ” “He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom; He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb; He’s all that my hungering spirit needs. I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.” 

“Than to be the king of a vast domain Or be held in sin’s dread sway. I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords to-day.” (1922, I’d Rather Have Jesus by Rhea F. Miller).

“This is the ‘old song’ I sing…”

Today, I offer up a ‘sacrifice of praise.’

My flesh doesn’t want to, but now is the time -now is the time…to praise.

And it’s not a new song I sing, Lord. It’s as old as Isaiah. You inspired him to sing, so I sing the words as well:

“O LORD, You are God. I will exalt You and I will praise your name. For You have done wonderful things, O lORD, for You have done wonderful things.

You are a strength to the poor. You are a refuge in the storm. You are a shade from the heat.You are a strength to those in need and in distress…You will keep me in perfect peace,

as my mind is stayed on You.

This is the old song I sing, as in that day: “Behold this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; We rejoice in His salvation and bring Him praise,

perhaps it seems a ‘sacrifice’ but, sacrifice You understand, so we wait on You, O LORD. For You are God, for in YAH, the LORD is everlasting strength.  For in YAH, the LORD is everlasting strength.” (Is. 25:1,2,4,9 and Is. 26:3,4)

Looking at the ‘other side of the coin…’

One side of the coin is pure sadness. Yes, one side of the coin sees death when we hear that thirty-three  christians, recently in this month of 2014, in N. Korea heard the verdict to their crime – the crime of letting others know about the King and His Kingdom from His letter of Love. Their King, who promises to love with an everlasting love and provide everlasting life by paying in full, the debt that was owed, the King of Kings, the King Jesus. The verdict to their crime of bringing others into this Kingdom: execution by morning.

But there is another side to this coin of tragedy. The Lord keeps speaking to my heart, “Think on these things, whatsoever is true.” (Phil. 4:8), and also to think on “whatever things are noble…” Believing in God is always noble, and hardship truly makes faith stronger.There is another side of the coin to this story:  Life and Hope and Love are the other side of the coin. How do I know? Because of the Living Word and  the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. We grieve with aching hearts, and those who have lost children mourn greatly their own loss, and those who will never see their siblings again on this earth ,weep – but thanks be to God through Jesus Christ who  is stronger than death! Thanks to His Word that spells out what they see:

They believed in the Name that saves, Jesus, and they have a life that will never end. They have come to ‘the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.’ They have come to ‘thousands of angels gathered together with joy!’ (Heb. 12:22), “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God,

the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,

to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all,

to the spirits of just men made perfect,

to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant,

and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.” Hebrews 12:22-24. Thanks  be given to God’s Word that makes sense of the nonsensical, when He speaks His words of truth: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” so we may boldly say: The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Heb. 13:5,6.This is the other side of the coin that we must always remember!

I have written before, of college students in S. Korea who flood to the 5a.m. prayer meeting at the University ,(they also meet at 7a.m. but the students don’t want to ‘look lazy’, so the 5a.m. prayer time is the most crowded!) to pray together for their neighbor, N. Korea and the persecuted church along with their own families and personal needs, but it all makes so much sense to me now. They are ‘awake’ to the dangers that surround them- so they pray fervently!

Jesus, Himself sat and taught the multitudes. Jesus has told us, but it rings opposite to our natural thinking: (as told in the International Children’s Version Bible, because at times like this, we are children who simply need things … simply,) “Those people who know they have great spiritual needs are happy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

Those who are sad now are happy. God will comfort them.

Those who are humble are happy. The earth will belong to them.

Those who want to do right more than anything else are happy. God will fully satisfy them.

Those who give mercy to others are happy. Mercy will be given to them.

Those who are pure in their thinking are happy. They will be with God.

Those who work to bring peace are happy. God will call them his sons.

Those who are treated badly for doing good are happy, the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. People will say bad things about you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow Me. But when they do these things to you, you are happy. Rejoice and be glad.

You have a great reward waiting for you in heaven…” Matthew 5:3-12.

And on this ‘other side of the coin’, I can even hear the voices, the voices of the martyrs: “For I know that this will turn out for my salvation…according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life  or by death. for to me, to live is Christ, and to die is to gain.” Phil. 1:19-21.

The other side of the coin? Perhaps words of an old Hymn as well:

“Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on His gentle breast, there by His love o’ershaded, sweetly my soul shall rest.

Hark! ’tis the voice of angels, borne in a song to me. Over the fields of glory, over the jasper sea.

Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe from corroding care, Safe from the world’s temptations, sin cannot harm me there.

Free from the blight of sorrow, free from my doubts and fears; Only a few more trials, only a few more tears!” (Safe in the arms of Jesus by Fanny J. Crosby)