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:
A few months ago, I started work as a legal assistant at a law firm, where we represent a lot of folks near death. Occasionally, I’ll be poring through a file and find a Last Will and Testament staring back at me, marked with that austere font associated with death. (I really don’t care what’s written on my tombstone – just write it in Comic Sans. Lighten the mood a little.) Many of the clients with whom I converse aren’t in the greatest of moods. They’re contemplating their mortality for the first time, and it’s scaring them, throwing them off their game, making them impatient and grasping.
They’re looking for something on which to seize.
I’m reminded of an article I read recently, lamenting that modern worship songs rarely speak of death, as the old hymns did. It made me think. Those were the days the world respected God. Now it thinks it’s evolved past the need for him, but I don’t buy it. Death will usually make anyone pause. A high-rise window, a worrisome lump, or a twist of the wheel is sometimes all that stands between us and the unknown. There are no atheists in a foxhole, and all that.
The world is looking for something on which to seize.
Enter Joey Feek.