Dr Pamela Prince Pyle

Hope For Your Best Death

It began with a small pinpoint of green at the tip of an otherwise brown stem. It was the shade of green that we associate with new life, bright, hopeful, and stretching to the sun in which it delights. I marveled in the truth of what I once thought dead, had life.

I do not have a green thumb. In fact, I cannot count the number of plants and flowers I have purchased from grocery stores, home improvement stores, and the occasional nursery. I carry these home and nurture them just as the instructions describe. They rarely survive my care. I do not understand and yet, I still hope. 

I am always drawn to the beautiful orchids whose splendor is unmatched. I imagine these delicate flowers perched perilously on a thin tender stem as one of God’s favorite flower creations. Colors are magnificent and they catch my eye. 

I love these beautiful plants because under my careful care (following the directions precisely) they last much longer than most. Then one by one these petals begin to fall, and I am aware that death must be near. Ultimately, I throw the plant away and keep the pot for my next attempt of growing a seedling.

One of these sad brown stems sits directly across from my desk. With a sigh, I walked over to it one day having seen its final wilted flower fall by its side. I picked it up and the small speck of green caught my eye. I chose to keep the orchid with its faint signs of life in my window. I did not touch it nor water it lest this spark of life be snuffed out by my not so green thumb. 

I look with wonder at the orchid each day. God’s majesty is revealed to me in the speck becoming a tender stem once again under His loving hand. This morning I gaze at three white flowers, petals joyful. They remind me of the moment when the perfect wind catches the sail, and it flutters then opens fully in response. Six buds wait expectantly with hope for their turn to delight.  

As I reflect on this genesis of life from what seemed to be death, I am made aware of the parallel we are given through our own physical deaths. We reach an age when we recognize own mortality. We hope to experience a long, meaningful life.

However, when disease calls our name, our hopes change. We hope to be cured. When cure escapes us, we then hope for words such as remission, and stable. With each step towards the end of life our hopes change as our physical life wanes. Our old hopes fall away much like the orchid’s flowers dropping one by one. 

This is the nature of our fallen world. Our bodies will one day appear as the brown stem of the orchid, lifeless and without worth. However, we have been given a gift which inspires hope even in our apparent death.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 

“Where, O death, is your victory?
 Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor 15:54-57.

I look again at the orchid’s new life and yet see, that there is a point of divergence between life and death. A portion of the stem has no color. Death is death and destruction is its destiny. 

We each have an opportunity to choose hope until our very last breath. This is faith in a Savior that died for us so that we may one day be the orchid which unfurls its petals on the stem of life.

Jesus said to her,

“I am the resurrection and the life. 

The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die.”

John 11:25

Our Creator God placed life amid apparent death in the orchid which shares its beauty with me each day. He places life, eternal life, in our souls through the loving sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This is the hope which surpasses all hopes. It is the hope for our best death which is in fact life. Death is no longer our fate.

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