In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me

“Christ and the Rich Young Ruler” (detail) by Heinrich Hofmann / Public domain

“In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”

Two days ago we remembered the victims of September 11, 2001 in our prayers as we marked the nineteenth anniversary of that tragic day. That is a day that I pray we never forget.

However, our present year, 2020, is one of the darkest in recent memory. In the midst of a once in a century or more pandemic, political division, and societal discord, many find themselves overwhelmed and lost, sad and angry. But, I hope we can reflect and find consolation in the following truth of God’s love and Providence in and over our lives.

We are loved. We are loved by the One Who made us and sustains us. Even if no one else does, God loves you. And that is worth living for… living life to the full in the Lord.

Deep within each of us is a hunger and thirst. For some, the feeling is so strong that it is never quite out of mind. For others, the feeling is repressed and hardly noticed, although it remains a part of them.

The simple fact is that the very space we take up and all that is around us did not always exist. There was a beginning for space, for all that is around us, just as there was a beginning for you and me. We move from one place to another and just as we move through and occupy our particular space, we also move through time.

Time did not always exist either; there was a beginning even for time. Time, too, is a created thing. It seems there must have been a beginning for everything and everyone. That is what our lived experience seems to demonstrate.

We can think back through the time of our own experience—before this child, before this job, before I met my wife or husband, before I left the home of my father and mother—but I cannot think of me before I was conceived. However, we know there was a thought of each of us before we were conceived and born. If we try, we can imagine our parents dreaming of each of us, even before we were created. And if we can imagine that, we can imagine so much more. For before there was a universe and before time was created and the ticking of the clock began, there was and is and always will be God; God who not only loves, but who is Love.

Before there was anything or anyone other than God, who is the Altogether Other, He thought of you and He loved you, first as a thought and in life as a person endowed with a spiritual soul. And He has great plans for each of us.

The longing—that hunger and thirst within us—is the “longing for God who is our first beginning and our love for Him who is our final end.”

St. Augustine, writing of this hunger and thirst said, “Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.”  (St. Augustine, Confessions – Book I. Chapter I.)

The wonder and love that cannot be surpassed ring out in God’s words to the Prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you” (Jeremiah 1:5).

Think about it. God thought of you and in His thoughts He loved you. Because of His love you are. Because of His love you will always be.

We are all philosophers because we all wonder at some point why we are and who we are. The Truth is that God Alone is the answer to all life’s questions. He desires you. He has great plans for you in this life. And He has great plans for you in the life to come where every tear will be wiped away and where toil and suffering will be no more.

In the midst of this dangerous and sometimes dark world, in the midst of betrayal, in the midst of pain and suffering, is love—our love for one another and the Love of God for each and every one of us. In that Love, poured out in His Son, is our salvation, our life, and our peace. Jesus merited this grace on His Cross. He offers it to you freely. And freely you must accept it. Dare to touch the Lord!

Lord, may each of us come to know and embrace your love and gift of life. Help me to trust and surrender my will to you. What more could I want than for You to abide with me? Jesus, I trust in you.

For your reflection, Abide with Me, the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, with treble solo by Bruce Blyth. This was sung at Mother Teresa’s funeral and also by my cousin Judy at my dad’s as it was his favorite hymn. I believe it is also a fitting hymn at this time of remembrance.

“Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent” (Luke 24:29).

Into the deep…

Deacon Bickerstaff is available to speak at your parish or event. Be sure to check out his Speaker Page to learn more. Into the Deep is a regular feature of the The Integrated Catholic Life™.

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About the Author

Deacon Mike Bickerstaff Editor-In-Chief, ICL

Deacon Michael Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life.™ A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is also the Founder and President of Virtue@Work, where he provides Executive and Personal Coaching, Mentoring and Organizational Consulting. Deacon Mike has 30+ years management consulting experience in senior executive leadership positions providing organizational planning and implementation services with a focus on human resource strategy and tax qualified retirement plan design, administration and compliance.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplain of the St. Peter Chanel Faith at Work Business Association and co-founder and Chaplain of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

He and his wife have two married children and three grandchildren.

NB: The views I express on this site are my own. I am not an official spokesman for either my parish or diocese.

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