Sunday, June 28, 2009

Death in the News


In the last 10 days, there have been some major stories in the news marking
the Deaths of 2 famous, and one suddenly (tragically) famous, people:

Michael Jackson died of (what is currently believed to be) "Sudden Cardiac Arrest",
this past Thursday. He was 50 years old. Perhaps no other entertainer had the
success and global impact that Michael Jackson did; despite his troubles in more
recent years, it seems obvious that for most of his life he enjoyed every bit of
the fame and fortune that this Life has to offer (and I personally liked almost all
of his music).

Farah Fawcett was the icon of "gorgeous" during the "Gen X" years when most
of us in that demographic were going through puberty. She too, though troubled in her
later years, surely enjoyed much fame and fortune during her stroll across the stage
of Life...

Neda was a beautiful college-aged Philsophy student who was gunned down last week
in the midst of the uprising in Iran. She was rather passively participating in
the tumult following the recent elections there, and is said to have only wanted
"freedom for all"... She had her whole life ahead of her, but a bullet pierced
her chest and she died right there where she fell, on a crowded Iranian street in
a pool of her own blood...

In all three of these cases, as in virtually every other Death the world has ever seen,
one moment a human being is Alive, the very next moment they are Dead, and what had been
the body of a person instantly becomes just a corpse, and the Person who
used to occupy that body is gone...

Life ends in the blink of an eye, suddenly, abruptly, often unexpectedly.

I myself, of course, could drop over Dead before I finish writing this paragraph; or before
I get to my son's baseball game later this morning; or as I'm driving to my Client engagement
tomorrow morning (it's sobering to picture myself having "sudden cardiac arrest", and I
slump over the wheel, and the car drifts to one side and careens to a halt in the ditch,
rocks and dust flying all over...)

To anyone who might respond by saying such imaginings are "morbid", I would reply with a
question and a comment: The question would be, "Are you a Christian?" If the answer is "No",
then we view this subject (and most others) very differently. If "Yes", then I would submit
that we Christians need to talk about Death openly, honestly, and frequently, for three
very poignant reasons:
    1. God never intended Death. Man's sin "broke" the world,
    and Death is our constant reminder that there is
    something wrong with the world as we know it...

    2. The Bible encourages us to live circumspectly, keeping in mind
    the frailty of human life and of our bodies, remembering that we
    enter into Eternity the moment we breathe our final breath...

    3. Perhaps most importantly, Death helps us ponder the idea
    that we are essentially spirit beings, merely encased, temporarily,
    in shells of muscle and bone, blood and water...
    When we interact with one another, we are spirits interacting;
    the real ME is the person, the spirit, having these
    thoughts and merely using my fingers to type and my eyeballs to
    view this screen... Someday (maybe today), those fingers and eyeballs
    will cease to function, and the REAL ME will be gone...

No wonder, then, that the Bible says "Man looks on the outward appearance, but
God looks on the heart"
... Quite literally, this verse is talking about PERSPECTIVE:
We humans are so geared toward This World, the physical, temporary, tumultous
world, and toward the drives and desires we have as physical, animal creatures;
but God's world -- the REAL "Reality" -- is a Spirit world that is eternal.

So let us live, every day, with the realization that we may very well be only one
short breath away from stepping through that portal; we need to have Death on our
minds constantly, in order that we might LIVE as we ought to before we pass into

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