In what seems to me sometimes like a cosmic joke, a person’s life is often boiled down to a sequence of numbers – two dates with a dash between them.
The first is the date of our birth. Its arrival every year is an occasion for joy, for gifts, or perhaps just a little extra attention. We’re familiar with it. We write it on official documents. It’s a friend to us, right down to the whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing – the further we get, the worse we feel.
The other, the day of our death, is unknown to us. It lurks in the future, possibly fifty years from now, possibly this very day. We will, by definition, never write it down. By the time it’s known, we can do nothing about it. It evokes loss, shadow, looking back and evaluating, the arranging of one’s affairs and moving on.
At least it does for “the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
But this last week, a friend of mine passed (expected), and the words used to describe her passing were, “She met Jesus!”
My friend escaped. She got out. She finally leaped beyond the reach of this world’s grime and reached Jesus.
And it hit me:
The day of our earthly passing will be a far greater day, a far more powerful and glorious marker, a far better friend, than our birthday ever was.
The day when all burdens are dropped like moldy bread into a trashcan. When our many soul glitches are instantaneously debugged. When all purposes are finally understood. When all rewards are revealed. When all tears are wiped away. When all bodies are made imperishable. When glory is, in one moment, dramatically and irreversibly redefined.
What is our birthday compared to that?
That day was all tears. Tears of joy for our moms, maybe, but of confusion and cold and blinding for us. Talk about shifting worldviews.
The next birth, the final birth, will be as waking from a dream and seeing truth in the flesh. With no expiration date.
I don’t know any of the digits of the date of my earthly death, beyond the year starting (probably) with “20”. I personally hope to release at least four books, have a family, hike the Continental Divide trail, see Halley’s Comet, and hear a new DC Talk album before it comes. (Not optimistic on the last one.)
But if I don’t…and this is so abstract but I’ve got to believe it…will I regret anything? Will I even be capable of something like that as I finally see him in all his splendor?
According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:3b-4 HCSB)
I’m starting to see my death day as less an enemy and more a friend, eagerly waiting.