Death and its power never ceases to amaze me. I don’t want to be unfeeling or irreverent, but it has come to every single person (except Enoch and Elijah) since the sin in the garden. Yet we all act shocked when it comes to our house. It is the most predictable event and yet we are never prepared for our loved ones to go. We act as if we never imagined this could happen and yet we knew, beyond doubt, that it would happen.
During my writing weeks in some of the past Digging years, I’ve opened my window to find a giant flag waving or a beautiful field sprawling for acres (or a crowded parking lot). This year I opened my window to see peaceful rows of flower-strewn graves and one lone, aging man sitting on a bench under a big oak tree with his head bowed. I have looked out there a lot this week. As I have been writing, two of my dear friends in this life have lost loved ones—one a daughter at the age of 35, and one a younger brother at the age of 60. I knew and loved these people who now know so much more than I do about the subject at hand.
And that is, perhaps, the reason that death has a hold of terror on most of us. We cannot know it. We cannot speak with anyone who has experienced it, except of course in prayer and study. It’s a thing as natural as birth or walking or talking and, yet, when it comes our way, we are bowed low beneath its burden.
And God made it that way. Since the garden, Satan has had his malignant hand in our earthly affairs, subjecting us to pain, sorrow, death and its grief. He is not done with you and me.
But, additionally, when I think about death, the sadness it brings is also a result of the great gift of fellowship. God made us with longings for relationships. I know this because he made us in His image and no one has given more for relationship and communion with you and me than the Father and Son. No one has given more for family. We are in His image, so we treasure relationships, too. We long, deep within our souls, for the benefits that come when we care for others and they reciprocate. We are meant to be social and when we are disconnected, we become less than what we could be—in our eternal hopes, in our earthly influences and in our personal peace.
But the Son showed us powerfully that the ultimate victory over death is His. The Spirit then revealed all that we need to know about what happens at, and after, death.
I hope you’re planning to study with us (or in some systematic way) next year. It’s not all about dying. It’s a whole lot about living. And it’s all we really know about either–the Word of God!