death before death

I attended two funerals this past week. one for the mother of a good friend, and the other for the father of a church member (acquaintance). what a sobering week to reflect on life, death, and legacy. In Run With The Horses, Peterson quotes Vitezslav Gardavsky, a Czech atheist/agnostic philosopher, who Peterson describes as a martyr for his activism. In God Is Not Yet Dead, Gardavsky says, the terrible threat is “that we might die earlier than we really do die, before death has become a natural necessity. The real horror lies in such a premature death, a death after which we go on living for many years.” I was humbled to hear the stories of these lives and the people they loved. Love had transformed their family and friends. Stories of a life well lived–even if unexpectedly cut short.

When a life is suddenly cut short, it’s almost like we cut a candid snapshot into a life. As I went through the room looking at pictures… even though I didn’t know the person, I felt like I got to know what he loved and cared for. Seeing this life in pictures told me so much that I began to feel deeply for a stranger and felt such a deep sense of loss though I never personally experienced his friendship. His life was a gift to his friends. It does make me pause and consider my effect on others.

I was also humbled by the expression of trust in God’s mercy and goodness. I often find myself looking at my work and effort in church as a means to transform and form people, but at death, we are completely at God’s mercy. Whatever faith we may think we have which “warrant” God’s acceptance is nothing – we don’t earn “heaven”. Likewise one’s apparent lack of faith doesn’t condemn. That’s the mystery so well articulated in my theology papers for school… election… grace… mercy… are infants saved… etc. But these theology papers eventually have to meet real life… real people… real love… and a real God.