My first experience with water skiing came at the age of twenty-four. I was quietly anxious about the adventure. All of my focus was on getting up on those skis. The first attempt was over before it began. One tug from the motorboat, and the rope left my hands and took off without me. On the second try, I got up for a brief second before I face-planted and a rush of brown lake water was sent up my nose. On the third attempt I kept the tension just right to bring my body out of the water. As my body fully emerged, I leaned back just a bit and found the slot. I did it! I was water skiing. A smile overtook my entire face. I had accomplished the goal! Check.
Then it dawned on me. I had spent all my energy and focus on my entrance strategy and had invested zero time considering my exit strategy. I had no idea how to end this experience. Fear overtook me. Thoughts of my falling body skipping across the water like a smooth stone came to mind. Thoughts of my legs rising above my head as I made contact with the concrete water below elevated my blood pressure.
So, I held on for dear life as the boat continued circling the small lake. The guys on the boat began to yell out something to me, but I couldn’t quite make it out. By this time my hands and legs were cramping. How was this going to end? It had to end. I couldn’t hold on forever. I yelled for the guys to speak louder.
They screamed at the top of their lungs, “Let go of the rope!”
Let go of the rope? They must be insane. What happens to a body that just lets go of the rope and gives up? I didn’t know, because I had never experienced it before. So, I doubled down on my grip and kept skiing, completely unsure of how it was all eventually going to end.
Life is so often like my water-skiing adventure. We use all of our energy getting up and staying up but don’t have an exit strategy. We know we can’t continue the ride forever in this body — it will eventually give out — but, because we don’t know how the ride ends and fear it will hurt, we hold on for dear life.
Woody Allen said, “I don’t mind dying; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Boy, can I relate!
What is the exit strategy for the Christian? If I said “yes” to Christ in this life, what happens to me when I die, when I let go of the rope?
The Bible has so much to say about this that will calm your nerves, loosen your death grip on life and give you hope. Consider the words of Paul in his letter to the Corinthian believers –
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. — 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1
Daily our bodies are wasting away. Can I get an “amen”? This is just a fact of life. But as we grow in Christ, Paul says, our spirits can actually get stronger. The second-best for overcoming the effects of aging is diet and exercise. The first-best strategy is spiritual growth, getting healthy on the inside.
We should do everything we can to take care of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), but eventually, time takes its toll. I am working hard to slow the process down, but I cannot stop it. I’m not only getting older, but I am getting shorter. Somewhere between high school and now, I have lost an inch off my height. Yikes.
Death will eventually win over these perishable bodies we inherited from Adam, but as we grow spiritually and get to know God better, we will see he has a plan for us. His plan trumps all the pain and even physical death we experience in this life. It’s a plan where love wins and we live forever. On the day of Christ’s return we will receive a new body, a resurrected body that is imperishable. When we fix our eyes on this promise it makes the temporary troubles we have in life now seem puny in comparison. Because no matter how awful our circumstances become, we know this is not how our story ends. We will receive relief from our grief one day. The believer in Jesus can cope with this hope.
That summer day when I was water skiing so many years ago, I finally did it. I let go of the ski rope. What happened? My body slowly sank into the water. The life jacket kept me afloat as the boat circled around to pick me up. Everything was fine. And the next time out I not only had an entrance strategy but an exit strategy.
Death, the Bible tells us, is a valley experience. But at some point in the valley, Jesus will meet us there and take us the rest of the way (see Psalm 23:4). Death is a sting. But, the sting is only temporary. Once it wears off and is over, you are left with eternity in the presence of God. Whenever it is time for you to let go of the rope of life, you will discover that everything will be just fine. No, not fine…better than ever.
Original blog by Randy Frazee for Devotionals Daily featuring his new book What Happens After You Die, copyright Randy Frazee.
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Do you have an exit plan? Are you ready when it’s time to let go of the rope and do you know that Jesus will be there to take you the rest of the way Home? You can be sure of that today! Come share with us. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily