Are you dead yet? He had been driven by that question his entire life. Long before he had decided that if he wasn’t dead, he had no excuses. He must live life to the fullest, suck the marrow, seize the day, do God’s work to the bitter end. He was so consumed by the constant question that he dove on through his illness and his failing ability to walk. He wasn’t dead yet, so moving on was the only option.
He only faltered for a moment. That dreadful moment when the doctor couldn’t look him in the eyes for fear of revealing his pity and said, “You’ll never walk again.”
But it was only a moment.
“It’s okay.” He said determinedly, “I’m not dead yet.”
The pressure in the room had lightened and everyone had laughed nervously. He would be fine.
Are you dead yet? He sometimes woke with the question on his mind and praised God that he was still alive to tackle another day. And tackle he did. He did nothing mildly or half-heartedly – he rushed in like an ambushing army, often leaving as much devastation behind. He never saw it. He was so busy living life and working for God that he left people crumpled in his wake. Unable to keep up, unable to share his drive.
His wife woke him up to that. She cried in his numb lap, begging him to stop and slow down. But he couldn’t. He wasn’t dead yet. He had things to do for God – the things of the kingdom needed doing and if he wasn’t dead yet, he was the one to do it.
“There is so much work to be done, love.” He said, not understanding why she was so upset.
“But do you have to do all of it?” she asked.
“If no one else is doing it, yes.” He shook his head, “I don’t understand, I thought we’d talked about this. If we’re not dead, we have things to do.”
“Sometimes I think you make up things to do and say they’re what God wants but when last did you listen?” she asked him that night, face stung red by too much crying.
“What do you mean…” he began but she was sobbing harder, shaking her head.
“To God. When last did you listen to God?” she cried, “when last did you ask Him where He wanted you to go? How He wants you to live? When last did you let Him take the lead?” she kissed his cheek, “There’s no point in doing anything unless it’s what God want you to do.”
He said nothing. She left him alone after that. Left him to fumble with the words: Are you dead yet?
Hadn’t God spoken those word to him? Hadn’t God been the one driving him forward, leaving him with no excuses? Hadn’t he been working for God? Sure he didn’t have much time to sit and just be with God, to listen and pray but it was because he was doing what needed to be done. Surely that was more important.
Are you dead yet?
It struck him, in an instant and the sudden light being switched on left him blind for a moment. He realised he’d been living in the dark for some time. He’d been wrong. Very, very wrong. He wasn’t dead yet and that was the problem. He was so busy working and living for God that he had forgotten to die to him. Die to Christ. How could Christ use him if he was so busy trying to take the lead? How could Christ use him if he wasn’t an empty vessel?
Are you dead yet?
“Not yet Lord, but I’m ready to die.” He spoke it out loud, feeling how his flesh began to give way, feeling how his soul opened up to make space for its creator.