I took this picture of my youngest brother Lance on an ice laden stream in the northeast, just minutes after I helped him take his daily dose of chemo. In that moment, and in many others Lance became a giant in my heart. Dan Allender said of a remarkable wedding he attended, “In the end, we all need a friend to serve as a witness to the triumph that is our life.” That day and many others in his 18-month decline and eventual Crossing Over, I served as his witness.
It was a year ago we were doing around the clock hospice.
It was a year ago today I served him what would become, unbeknownst to us, his last meal.
Today, in the early morning hours of Good Friday, I feel something akin to what the disciples must felt.
I feel it at my doorstep.
I feel it as a noose.
I feel its gaze.
I smell it’s stench.
I am disoriented by it’s spin.
George MacDonald said that “Every sunset speaks of his death and every sunrise of His resurrection.”
I gaze on the Colorado mountains basking in yet another sunrise.
I wonder if it’s true.
Hand over hand I crawl in to the scriptures this morning… Not unlike a narrow escape from a burning building; crawling low, through debris. Smoke filled lungs, eyes watering, excruciating heat.
I find Jesus.
But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:
Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?
It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God! (1 Corinthians 15)
I choose to believe beneath my tears.
Heaven is real. Death is a lie.
Heaven come today.
(Footnote: For more on the story, you might find some nourishment below:)
Tis a Fearful Thing
‘Tis a fearful thing
to love what death can touch.
A fearful thing
to love, to hope, to dream, to be –
And oh, to lose.
A thing for fools, this,
And a holy thing,
a holy thing
For your life has lived in me,
your laugh once lifted me,
your word was gift to me.
To remember this brings painful joy.
‘Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing, to love
what death has touched.’
― Yehuda HaLevi