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Friday, 28 May 2010

Death - the final frontier!

Today began on a very sombre note, as I attended the funeral service for one of my former pupils who was only about 18 years of age. Funerals are usually quite sombre - particularly if there is no real sense of hope and victory - but especially so when the deceased is so young.

The only positive aspect was the opportunity to meet up with a load of other ex-pupils - and to be pleasantly surprised at the way in which certain ones had so obviously matured in the "real world"!

I do hope that many of them were made aware of the transience of human life. So many young people seem to think that death is only for 'oldies'. Yet, since I first joined the teaching staff of Lesmahagow High School, I have been at the funeral services of more pupils, or of those who had only recently left, than I care to remember.

Death is a topic with which I dealt when I was teaching. There are so many ideas about it - from total annihalation, to 'we'll all be together in heaven' (however, whatever, or wherever, heaven might be!). Even among those who claim to be disciples of Jesus, there is an apparent reluctance to face up to the reality of death. So, our loved one has 'passed away'; been 'lost'; even 'kicked the bucket'! Almighty God doesn't mess about! Speaking to Joshua, He says, "Now that My servant Moses is dead, you must lead My people across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them" (Josh.1:2)

The problem would appear to be that there is an uncertainty about what does actually happen after death. It's easy for those who aren't facing it to come to all sorts of conclusions about the after-life - or the lack of it. However, as I later stated on the Facebook thread referred to in my last post (it went on for so long, that I reckon it should be in line for a mention in The Guinness Book of Records!!), those who dismiss the old saying that "There are no atheists in a foxhole", tend never to have been in a foxhole! I cannot racall his name, but a British Army Major who, at the time, was deployed in Afghanistan, sent regular audio despatches to the BBC Radio 4 programme Today. In the final message, he made the point that hardened men in the barracks at home, were found to be seeking out the Padre, reading the Bible, and taking a much greater interest in both life, and death, while on deployment! Of course, when one doesn't know if the next patrol will be the last one, it does tend to colour one's perspective.

I confess to not looking forward to the process of dying - it can be painful (as many in the persecuted church have discovered), and may be prolonged. But of death itself, I can say, triumphantly, with Paul: "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Cor 15:55-57, NIV). That's my (open!) secret. Because Jesus has already conquered death, through His glorious resurrection; and because I am His, and He is mine; I have the same victory, and the assurance that death, for me, is nothing more than the gateway into a fuller, more wonderful life, in a dimension that is beyond my human comprehension, in His nearer Presence. That's why disciples of Jesus, down through the centuries, have been able to face death with a steady eye. May all who read this post, have that assurance.

1 comment:

CannuckCol said...

"death, for me, is nothing more than the gateway into a fuller, more wonderful life, in a dimension that is beyond my human comprehension, in His nearer Presence."
Another way of looking at a 'believers' death is to consider it as the person having 'emigrated'
to Heaven and that we, other believers, will see them again when we follow after them.