No guilt in life, no fear in death
Yesterday, our family friend Otto was taken off of life-support, and died in the late afternoon. His life was cut tragically short, and there are no words to explain why. There is nothing to say to his wife and family. There is no silver lining. He is gone, and I don’t know what to say except that I know that Otto belongs body and soul, in life and in death, to Jesus. And that’s really the only hope that any of us have.
I have another friend who has a serious form of cancer. Someone recently asked, “Do you think she’ll survive?” And it occurred to me: none of us survive LIFE. None of us are getting off this earth without dying.
I have been very lucky, and in almost 25 years, have never lost anyone close to me. As a result, I have lived in constant fear. When is tragedy going to strike? Who will be the one that dies? In that light, I don’t know if it is distressing or comforting to remember that EVERYONE that I know is going to die. Not just one person, the “first” person. All. You and you and me and her and him and they. Every single person that I know, every person that I have ever seen or come into contact with, will die. It is a part of the natural cycle of life. It doesn’t make it any happier or easier, but it definitely brings my life into focus, and reminds me of the fleeting time that we all have.
And if I believe in the sovereignty of God, then I can believe that my life was never mine to begin with. Who am I to feel entitled to any amount of time?
In spite of my propensity to walk the “Via Negativa,” I actually do not intend for this post to be morbid or a downer. But I have been thinking a bit about my own death, and the possibility of death coming for me too early. God forbid that ever happen. But in the event that it does, I offer the following instructions:
1) I want to be an organ donor – they’ll probably want everything except my liver. And then cremate me – no use tearing down trees for a casket and tearing up the earth to swallow me. Go with whatever’s cheapest.
2) At the service, no one is allowed to wear black. I want colors and celebration and women in red dresses! And please, please have wine and cheese at the reception.
3) I used to think that I would want songs like “It Is Well With My Soul” and “Be Still, My Soul” at my funeral. But seeing as how I cannot make it through those songs without losing it, even when things are going well in my life, I opt against them and instead choose “Before the Throne of God Above” and “In Christ Alone.” Sing about victory and hope and the fact that we are loved more than we can know or understand.
4) Don’t be too sad for me. You can be a little bit sad, but not desparing. I’m really excited to go to heaven, mostly because I’m convinced that it’s going to be one long karaoke dance party starring Margaret Shoop, Ryan Church, and JJ Kissinger.
Really. Tell your family and your friends that you love them. Today. It’s all that we have.