Monday, February 27, 2006

The Unsung Death

     The denials of our society are profound and almost limitless. I suppose that such denials are indeed the only way that man can not deal with his sin. I have news for you; this is not the way it is supposed to be. We are not to be haunted by the specter of death in our very young and our very old. God had another original plan for us and it did not include death. What a lament it is that the world should shrug off the death of millions of our forefathers.
     Shortly before my grandmother of 89 passed away, I was visiting and caring for her. I started wondering about what life was like for someone so old so I asked her. (Those who know me are not surprised by my bizarre wonderings which always do seem to surface.)
     “Grandmother,” I asked, “what does it feel like to be 89? I mean you have been both 17 and 89. How is it different to get old?”
     Grandmother understood me very well, and deliberated for a few seconds—but only a few. She replied, “Pat, I feel exactly the same as I did when I was 17.”
     We went on to chat about it for a few moments, and the whole while I was considering her remark. If she is correct, then the whole of our spirit must spend all of our lives denying death. What an awful thing it would be to have a 17 year old spirit locked in a decaying 89 year old body! The eternal is locked with the bosom of the fragile crystal of the human body. Perhaps that explains why hope springs eternal. Hope, after all, is a part of the consciousness unique to humans; how ready we are to hope even in the face of brokenness.
     Of course when God told Adam not to eat of the fruit, He said in the day that you eat of it you shall die. There is another death unseen and unsung that has taken place within us; the death of our very soul. What is it that becomes our soul? It is that which seems to separate us from the animals, for it is said that God breathed into man and he became a living soul. If I may be permitted to extend the metaphor, it is the holy breath of God which made us unique. It is our disobedience which brought us death, which in its first context must mean the death of our very breath of our Creator.
     We know from later scripture that death is really a separation from God, a transfer of deed of our souls to Lucifer who would own us forever except for the ransom of the Son. Our society denies this penalty of death, attempting to reduce us to mere animals without consciousness or responsibility. But our spirits rail against this, shouting to our bodies that there is more, so much more.
     Right now I am enjoying a powerful storm blowing through my city. It speaks of God, just as much as does the serene green pasture with the blossoming trees. God who spoke to Elijah in the still wind sent his Son as a Babe that the world might be reconciled to Him. But the same God is capable of speaking to us in the awesomeness of the storm; in the return of Jesus, if I am not all out of my reckoning, that will be a major gale, a world-wide Katrina if you will. All of nature does declare the glory of God. A denial of death is ultimately a denial of God. How wonderful it is that we who were dead were made alive again in Christ Jesus. Oh death where is thy sting? Oh death where is thy victory?


David Porta said...

Pastor Matranga mentioned, on several occasions, his experience with a parishoner in the hospital who he used to visit when delivering communion to shut-ins. She was dying, but her attitude toward it was of such powerful and sweet faith, such conviction that she was going to be with Jesus, that it was obvious to me that the witness of her serenity served as spiritual food to Pastor. He was so inspired by her attitude, that he was moved to mention the witness of her calm and certain faith, repeatedly.

Mr. D said...

Many people I have known face the specter of death courageously. My mother and now Mike, whom I think you have met. He is dying from cancer, and is meeting it squarely on.
Sometimes it is a beautiful testimony of the peace of Christ.
Thanks for your comment!

David said...

Death is such a dark mystery to everyone who doesn't believe the Bible. They have confounded themselves by their own choice. They may busy themselves into not thinking about it, or drug themselves, but eventually reality comes back and they must face the certainty of death. Its the one great selling point for God, one we cannot avoid. And He uses it very efficiently for our good.

What is the soul? Its hard to put a finger on it. But it definitely sets apart from the animal kingdom. Its just a part of the whole intelligent creation God has made us to be. We are in His image, body, mind and soul. This is in order to experience a union with God that no other creation can have. That's amazing! What a privilege! What a precious fellowship our Creator must have had with Adam! No wonder He would go to such lengths to get us back.

Danielle said...

Reminds me of John Donne...
"Death Be Not Proud, Though some have called thee"

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so, /
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,/
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me./
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee, /
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow, /
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,/
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie./
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,/
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,/
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,/
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;/
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,/
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
I love those last two lines: "One short sleep past, we wake eternally, / And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die." Huzzah!