Death Has Been Conquered
By Darlene Leistner
Beginning in 1993 Phillip and I (and Tabitha, our oldest daughter) lived and worked at Poplar Point Camp. God called us there. Our eight years of service there were some of the best years of our lives. We loved it. Phillip became the Camp Director, after several years, and I came in as the Camp Cook. Tabitha also helped out in the kitchen and with the cleaning of the dorms. The work was hard, but we enjoyed it.
For three years I worked all three meals as cook, plus helping to clean up and get ready for the next camp. My body was stronger then and I didn't mind the work. My back, however, was giving me some problems. At age 38 I had to have emergency back surgery. A disk had ruptured inside of my spinal cord. I couldn't walk. Taking a ride to Birmingham's Montclair hospital in the ambulance was excruciatingly painful at every bump in the road. The next day a wonderful surgeon operated on my back. The difference was immediate relief. In two months I was back in the kitchen working gently to cook for a group.
Those next couple of years I had other cooks do the breakfast and lunch meals, and then I came in to do the evening meal. That was so much easier for me. Then it got to the point where I dreaded seeing the summer camps coming. I started having panic attacks and severe anxiety. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I was being drained.
In praying and asking God to show me what was going on, "adrenal gland" kept coming to my mind. I researched it on the internet and realized that I probably had an adrenal exhaustion because of the stress that I had been under for several years. Amazingly, carrot juice was a natural healer of the adrenal gland, which I read on one website. A couple from our church had just introduced the "Hallelujah Diet", which emphasizes eating fruits and vegetables, and JUICING CARROTS. Phillip began to juice carrots regularly. When I would drink several glasses of "this liquid gold" in a day, I would feel so much better.
One very special Sunday, after having the elders at Fountain of Grace pray for me, God miraculously healed my body of infertility. All those wonderful hormones that I had never experienced before began to spring up and do their work. All well and good. Unfortunately, hormones need to be "in balance" or their work can bring great distress upon a woman. I thought I was dying. I had cold flashes at night instead of hot flashes. I felt anxious and depressed. And I never wanted to walk into the camp kitchen again. Thankfully we were able to hire a cook from in town, a man who came out to do the cooking for us. I felt like a total mess.
Spiritually, I clung to Jesus. I remember one night, lying on Phil's lap, and praying for the Lord to come into "my boat", because the winds and the waves were about to swallow me up. I felt like life was being suffocated out of me. The Lord answered my prayer and I lay there in total peace. It felt so good to be at peace!
During this time I also heard the enemy say to me many times this one phrase: "But you ARE going to die." The fear of death overwhelmingly tormented me. I felt the fear running all through my body. One lady at our church recognized it one Sunday and told me, "Fear is all over you." When I would read the Word of God for comfort, it seemed that I would always come across a verse that mentioned death. Death, death, death. I cringed at the thought of it. I had to throw away the Voice of Martyrs magazines that came in the mail. Christians dying! Death! A lady bug was in my window sill one day, lying upside down, and slowly dying. I stood there and cried. Death was all around me. I couldn't escape it. Everything living will one day die. I was going to die. The enemy made sure I was reminded of that often.
This battle with death and the fear of it did not go away over night. It lasted many years. But what I learned through this battle has been significant to my life. The battles we face are meant to teach us how to use our spiritual weapons and to depend totally on the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the One who conquered our enemy.
One day the Holy Spirit took me on a crash Course that I called "Death 101". He took me from Genesis to Revelation pointing out how Death entered the world, as well as showing me Death's Conqueror and Death's final end in the lake of fire. My favorite verse was Hebrews 2:14-15 – "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Any fear is bondage and torment to a person. But the fear of death is the most tormenting of them all. It can cause a person to take their life.
Death still tries to creep its ugliness upon me at times when I don't feel physically well, but I know where my victory lies. Death is NEVER to be our friend. It is an enemy to us. Death has destroyed many people's lives by making them feel that Death is their only way out and their only hope. That is such a LIE!!!! Jesus Christ is our Hope and our Life. If I could scream to this world for everyone to hear, I would scream out, "LIFE is Found In JESUS CHRIST!!!" He alone has conquered death, and He alone will continue to deliver people out of the lies of Satan as the truth of the gospel is preached. His Perfect Love will cast out all of our fears.
Pursue life! Enjoy life! Because life is worth living just because He Lives!