When I was young, if you would have told me that death would have been on my mind as much as it does as an adult, I would have wondered what in the world I would have been doing. I certainly wasn’t planning to be a mortician, pathologist, or funeral director as a young person (although I have gained respect for all three over the years). Yet, as an adult, we find that death, as the old saying goes, is as inevitable as taxes. It’s inescapable. And as a minister, I run into it all the time since a pastor is called in at all phases of life (but maybe especially at the beginning and end stages).
I always used to say that death was always the enemy. Pure and simple. Today though I tend to say premature death is the enemy. This week began for us at our church with a long-time member’s funeral. She was ninety-nine years old and did much with her life. We celebrated that life and gave thanks to God for her. Was death an enemy to her? She sure didn’t see it that way. She told me regularly in the past two years of how much she looked forward to being both with God and with those that she loved.
On the other hand, this past week, I connected back up with an old friend. She is the mother of my best friend in high school and we had not communicated in the past ten years. I did not know that her husband had died and she did not know my younger brother had died. We both consoled one another. Life does continue but it doesn’t diminish what death robs of us – time with those we love. Premature death due to illness or accident will forever be a tragedy for us. As for death from aging though, I wonder if it is aging that is the enemy instead of death. And yet, if we didn’t age and if there weren’t accidents, the world could not sustain the population. We already don’t manage our resources well. What would it be if we all kept on living? We would deplete it at an even faster rate and I doubt we’d find the contentment we seek.
In the end, we have to do our best with the time given us and depend upon the Lord. Scripture says God is the giver of life. I figure he puts us here when we need to be here and introduces us to people with a purpose. What purpose would there be in building up relationships and learning lessons if we are all just temporary blips in the cosmic chasm of time and space? The only thing that makes sense is that God places us here and introduces us to people and experiences for something that will happen later. In this life we are tasked to pass on what we learn and the experience we have. And beyond this life? Well that’s in God’s hands and if we love life I am sure we are going to love even more what he has in store for us.
Before death comes, let us make good use of the time we have – especially with those that mean much to us. And when death does come, let us comfort one another and know that it is not as final as we thought. Death is a part of life, it just isn’t the final part and it’s power is tempered by God and by us.
Heavy topic but that’s what’s on my mind today. More to come.