So I have only touched the surface of all the significance of life and death in these few posts. I am hoping with this one, however, to bring it home a little bit more and maybe, for now, feel like we can move on to where God is directing this next. It seems appropriate after a weekend of remembering the overwhelming love of a savior through the cross and the incredible celebration of His victory over the grave that we take a look at how this should affect how we live and encourage other pilgrims along the way to live.
We have talked about death and those deaths most the time end up at some kind of a remembering and saying good – bye to that person. We have admitted at some of these it is easier to say our good-bye’s than at others. My wife and I attended the wake of a dear friend who had lived beyond his 90th birthday, a person who you would definitely say lived a full life (well at least as we know it here on earth). He was one of the men who I have often talked about as a wonderful encourager and more than that a challenger who helped me on to the ramp of doing ministry to and through men in the local church. It was easy to see and hear in his children and grandchildren the peace and how they could easily talk about the celebration of his life. This, of course, is how we want to see our loved ones change address (being that is the process at this point we are unable to stop)
It made me think of a conversation I had years ago with a friend from my school days in the small town I grew up in, at a point when I was going to be heading off to college and he would be staying in that small town. I knew that his life was already heading in a direction more away from God than towards Him. I had just finished my summer job at the place he was working fulltime at. I remember asking him what did he feel like the future was looking like for him , which eventually led to the question about if he would be connected to a local church. His answer was one that probably, not so much in the words themselves but in what they represented, I feel are a lot more common. This was a man who grew up in a family that went to church (I hesitate to say anything beyond that because how they went to church might have been a big part of his positioning at this time in his life). His parents also put him through the small little Christian school there that myself and all my siblings also went through.
His answer to this day still kind of haunts me. Not because there wasn’t any hope there, but instead because the hope that was there was only towards something that might happen in the future. He basically (at least honestly) said he would have plenty of time to put that into his life later on in life. Maybe this haunts me more because what I said next was more of the typical challenge about the fragility of life and we are never even assured of tomorrow. As I have thought back to that again and again over the course of my journey as a Christ – follower, we have to have a better answer. Do our lives as Christians though suggest anything different? What I am asking is this, are we through our lives exhibiting the abundant life that He promises? Or do our lives individually and as the church together look so much just like what we see in our culture today? In other words is what we are showcasing in the world something that is distinguishable, does it stand out as something different? Is our answer with our lives stopping those who think that waiting is a good idea in their tracks and making them think that they are missing something today, or is it suggesting to others that we better go get some of the gusto of life that we can before we settle into that “Christian” life?
As I will do in most of these posts… my wondering will take us back to how are we doing as a church to help people see the abundant life more than worry about the fragility of life? How might we need to look differently at how we not only do church but truly be the church?! (and not just carry that slogan on a t-shirt or have it posted somewhere)
“Everyone wants to be happy, to be blessed. Too many people are willfully refusing to pay attention to the One who wills our happiness and ignorantly supposing that the Christian way is a harder way to get what they want than doing it on their own. They are wrong. God’s ways and God’s presence are where we experience the happiness that lasts.” (from A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson)
Do it the easy way:
“All you who fear God, how blessed you are! how happily you walk on his smooth straight road!” Psalm 128