Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

04/18/2018

Randall Caselman

 

Death

Where Is Your Sting

 

  Death! What a strange event in life. Perhaps the most mysterious moment in the human experience. It appears to be the step that bridges two worlds, the physical and spiritual, a door allowing entrance into an eternal utopian existence that is beyond our ability to comprehend.

 

  Just what is death? Not too long ago we defined it by breath: "Is he breathing?" Then death was focused on heart function. We feel the wrist or neck, "Does he have a pulse?" Now we've moved to the brain where a series of tests tells the doctor if there is any brain activity. Strange in that: I am white Caucasian, six feet tall, weight 180 pounds, have graying hair, blue green eyes; but if I were to die in the next moment, I would still be white, Caucasian, six feet, 180 pounds with gray hair and blue green eyes, but Randall would not be here. In fact, as a past Hospice Chaplain, I've always noticed that at death, or shortly thereafter, the person changes. To me, I sense a difference between a dead body and a living one in the moments surrounding death. H. Norman Wright, in his book, "Crisis Counseling" says death is the permanent, irreversible cessation of vital body functions." Life is gone, soul has departed its body.

 

  I believe for us to be comfortable with death means that we see death as a part of living; see it as the transition between two worlds. Being comfortable requires a willingness on our part to enter into our own fears, particularly fears associated with loss, control, relationships, verbal communication, intimacy, etc. Becoming comfortable with death demands that we become acutely aware of our own mortality. An awareness and intimacy with death should cause us to embrace life more fully. It should cause us to give thought to our own death and what awaits us on the other side of this transition.

 

The Bible has a lot to say about death...

 

  Death is inevitable. The statistics on death are impressive: One-out-of-one will die.  The Hebrew's Writer says: "It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment." Solomon noted there is "a time and place for everything under the sun: A time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant and harvest, a time to dance, rejoice, and a time to mourn and cry." Death will come to us all.

 

  Death reminds us that life is short. Job says: "Life is like a weaver's shuttle, moving so fast that you cannot see it, just the pattern it leaves." Jesus taught: "Life is like a flower, here today, gone tomorrow." James wrote: "Life is like a vapor, it appears for a little while and then is gone." Regardlessof our health or age, death surprises: "Like a thief in the night."So, we must be prepared. Billy Graham in "Facing Death and the Life After," says "How we deal with death, our understanding and attitude toward death says a lot about the kind of people we are." The Dalai Lama once said:"If we wish to die well, we must live well." Indeed, how we live is how we die–So be ready!

 

  Death can be a blessing. Paul saw death as a blessing. In Philippians, he spoke of two options: One was to die and go be with the Lord, the other was to live and be of benefit to the church. In Second Corinthians 5.6 & 8, he writes: "We are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord...We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." Near to his death, Paul acknowledged he had fought the fight, finished the race, kept the faith, and was ready to receive his crown of righteousness.

 

Well... What are some of the blessings death brings?

 

  A new body: "I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God... We will not all sleep,but we will all be changed--In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. The perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. Then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 'Where, O death, is yourvictory? Where, O death, is your sting?'” (1 Corinthians 15.50-55). Save when Jesus comes, death is the only route to Heaven.

 

  A new life: "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

 

  No more death: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.

 

  Ironic isn't it? That instead of death robbing us, it serves as a blessing, an entrance into the joys that God, through Jesus, has prepared for us? "For I am convinced that neither death nor life...Nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

—Randall Caselman