December 31, 2013 § Leave a comment
I’ve never had to deal with death before. I’ve never had to face the weight of absolute loss – forever.
I had the opportunity to make it back to Arkansas for Christmas, and what a blessing it was. Although I feel like I fell into the same Christmas routine as every year; eat, sleep, repeat, I had the chance to connect with my family in a way that I hadn’t in a long time, or possibly ever. We had fun just being in each other’s presence, it was awsome. Okay, Okay, the “possibly ever” might seem a little extreme, but given the dynamic of my life since becoming a Christian, I’ve really not had a ton of opportunities to be part of my crazy, late night, selfie-taking family. With hindsight being what it is, 20/20, I see an amazing family that I didn’t get to know as well as I should have. Of course it’s not too late, never too late, but the 1200 miles separating us is a slight hindrance. I say all of this to say: my Christmas was amazing, and one I won’t soon forget.
As I was coming out of my “gravy coma” (thanks mom), I woke up on the runway of the Philadelphia International Airport. Like everyone else on the plane, my first priority was to turn off “airplane mode” and await the 20 incoming texts (you’re that cool, too, right?). I actually didn’t get any texts, but rather a voice mail from the CEO of my company. I returned his call, and he gently informed me that a co-worker and friend had passed away on Christmas eve. What? How can that be? I was stunned, but not like I should have been. I’ve never had to deal with death. I’ve never had to face the weight of absolute loss – forever.
I attended the funeral, the first one I can remember going to, or at least the first one that I’ve been deeply troubled by, and I’m genuinely glad I went. On the way home, I got to ride back to Philly with a friend; a friend who has a lot of questions about Christianity, and more specifically about Christianity and death, which was of course spurred by our loss. It wasn’t until this conversation that the true reality and finality of death was revealed. It was a great talk. An unfiltered discussion about Jesus, what Jesus’s death means, and what that sacrifice means for us, now. It was awesome.
Feeling pretty good about the day’s events, even in light of the tragedy we spent the day mourning, I settled into bed. As I started to say a quick prayer, the terrible weight of death crashed down on me. I’ve never been so destroyed by a single thought, the thought that death without Jesus, is final. It’s irreversible. I was so broken that words no longer came from my lips, but only raw emotion. I’ve never conversed with God in the same way, and after an hour of wordless, intense prayer, my understanding of God and death had changed. I saw the grace and mercy of God. I saw that God is SO GOOD and loves us SO MUCH that even in death (the opposite of Jesus and the absolute consequence of sin), His promises are just as true as in every other situation. God promises us that in all things, He will be glorified. He promises that all things work towards the good of those that love Him.
It’s hard to look at such a loss and try to find joy. It’s hard to see the effects of sin in such a tangible way, and have that darkness eclipsed by something greater, so much greater that, though I morn for my friend and pray for mercy, I still can’t help but find joy and solace in fact that my God has promised, and fulfilled those promises, since the beginning of time, and He’s not going to stop now. God has relentlessly pursued his people throughout history, and is still doing so today.
In the face of death, I’ve found life. I’ve found an urgency in the Gospel, and a reason to reevaluate my priorities. God promises to mold and shape us, to council and comfort us, to strengthen and sanctify us, to humble and lift us up. God’s promises aren’t empty, but full of life, full of Himself, the ultimate good. I hope that death never finds you or those dear to you, but if it does, press into the promises of the only One whom death cannot hold,