Monday, July 16, 2007

And Death
And Other Stuff ...

One of the ideas I have been stuggling with, of late, is death. The reason I have been thinking about this is, one of my good friends (Publius 2000) is currently watching his father die.

I watched my father die a few years ago. What a horrendous, and frightening process. Honestly, it seems to be an abomination to me.

That's a word that is thrown around casually by many people, although very few people actually know the definition of it. Let's look at the definition:

a·bom·i·na·tion [uh-bom-uh-ney-shuhn]
anything abominable; anything greatly disliked or abhorred.
intense aversion or loathing; detestation: He regarded lying with abomination.
a vile, shameful, or detestable action, condition, habit, etc.: Spitting in public is an abomination.

A Jewish man once explained to me that the word, in Hebrew, connotes a process of deterioration through excess. In other words, an abomination is something that occurs because of abuse.

The shortest verse, that I know of in what we Christians call the "New Testament", is (John 11:35):

"Jesus wept."

Jesus wept when he saw his friend Lazarus die.

The most profound thing I have ever heard a Christian say - for, to tell you the truth, I have heard my Jewish friends, even those who have no faith, say many more profound things than my fellow Christians - is that the reason Jesus wept is because

He (being God) just did not want it to be this way when He created us.

A small digression -
Jesus, if you believe as I do, was God Himself. It's a mystery that is impossible to explain. But, for my Jewish friends, I will point out that the very first verses of the Bible (Genesis) use the Hebrew word Elohim, which is a plural word, to describe God.

The point is, God, Who is One in spirit, is mysteriously, inexplicably, a multiple Being, even in the Jewish Bible. - End of digression.

Anyway, when Jesus, and his Father, and the Spirit Who Moved Across The Waters, set out to create the Universe of material as we know it, They Created it and "saw that it was Good." The Garden of Eden was an idyllic state, where man walked in harmony with God.

God warned us that sin would surely bring death upon us all, and yet Adam and Eve, not truely understanding the consequences of their actions, and yet in rebellion towards their Father (God), did indeed sin.

Never blame Adam and Eve, or anyone else, for that matter. One of the deepest lessons of the Judeo-Christian life is that we all helped to drive the nails into Christ's hands and feet.

(God, this post is getting far more complicated than I wanted it to be, but that is what thoughts of death do to you.)

So, back to the point, Jesus wept because He never wanted it to be this way. He didn't Create us to die. He wanted us to experince Joy, and Fellowship. in His Presence. Instead, we experience pain, suffering, and finally death.

This is a tragic idea to Our God, and so it caused him to cry out in suffering Himself.

Just as it causes us to cry out in suffering.

The consolation we can take in this fact is that God loves us so much that he was willing to give His Only Begotten Son to die for us, to cure this state of affairs. That has not eliminated death from the face of the Earth, but has instead, eliminated it from the spiritual realm, which of course, we do not see, but believe in by the measure of faith granted to us.

Therefore, we still suffer, and we suffer greatly.

I pray for my friend Publius 2000 and his family. I ask God to help them. Publius sends me updates, and it sounds like his father is much stronger in his faith than I could ever imagine myself to be. As a father myself, I have realized the impact of one's "measure of faith" on my children.

God, I wish I had stronger faith.

Yesterday, in church, I listened very carefully to the words of my Pastor as he spoke of the humility that was required of Jesus in suffering and dying on the cross. This kind of humility is required of us. We need to bow our heads, and say to God, "Please forgive me."

But, that's not all.

We need to believe that His love spans across all things, material and immaterial; that it can reach all the way to us in our horrific state.

I, as a Christian, have a very hard time with that. I have no trouble believing that God exists. I have trouble believing that God loves me.

But, to not believe that He loves you is to deny the central point of His whole Being. And, to not believe that He loves you is to lack faith in Him.

I realized yesterday, in listening to my Pastor's words, that the one aspect of humility which I have not realized in my life (not that I am anywhere near perfect in every other respect :) is humility in the face of God's true love for me.

I don't know how it is that I am going to learn that lesson, but I must do so.

A friend of mine, Tyrone Wells, wrote a song called "When All Is Said And Done." It is a brilliant song. Here are the lyrics:

When all is said and done
And I'm looking back upon this race I've run
And when my heart gives in
I know you will be beside me precious friend
It's just the same from the beginning to the end

When all is said and done.

If I lose my way
And I wander down this open road for days
And if the sun should fall
And the dancing we once did becomes a crawl
Let the memories move like shadows on the wall

If I lose my way.

When I'm coming home
And I walk across the bridge of death alone
I will fix my eyes
On the One that's waiting on the other side

It's my old friend with countless others there beside

When I'm coming home

I don't know if my friend Tyrone truly has that kind of faith, or if he was simply inspired somehow to write that song. But, I need that kind of faith for what I do with my life. And, I pray that God will grant it to me.

(Here is a the best recording of Tyrone's song available on the internet, in case you want to hear it. The video is, uh, not very good, but it was not Tyrone's idea. Instead, it was the work of some fan, just as is this post.)