You know death when you see death.
The slow deterioration.
Of body. Of mind. Of soul.
But not all disappears.
Not all breaks down.
What is left?
Let us unfold.
My darling dog has been dying for a while now. He is weak. As light as a feather. He can barely stand on his own two feet. He is shaking constantly. Shivers pulse through his being. His eyes are glazed. He only sees dimly. He runs into doors. He forgets where he is. He flinches when you go to pat him, so you have to be gentle and use a soothing voice to calm him before you touch him. He pees involuntarily, all over the place. He sleeps all the time. He lacks energy and motivation. He needs comfort, patting.
When you pick him up you can feel skin and bone. His heart races. That is the pulse, the life. Though it seems almost abnormal. He often sits and stares into nothingness. He wanders, roams. Not the young puppy he once was; watching, alert. No. Back in the day he would race everywhere, a boundless ball of fluff and fervency. He had a bark on him too. Always growling at company. Now, he doesn’t know the difference. A car door or a drawer? A song or a conversation? His senses aren’t as strong.
On duty, the family out, I watched my darling boy curled in a ball. He was wrapped in a blanket, in his bed, positioned on the chair. We were at the dining table. But. I got distracted. Next thing, the pup’s falling off the chair beside me.
One minute he’s in death bed.
Then suddenly, he’s out.
A leap of faith maybe?
It is a metre to the ground. That shook him up. He is unsteady on his feet. Wobbly legs. He doesn’t have strength to even step. So I slide him across the tiles. Push him to the water. He won’t take solid food. But he’ll take liquid. Despite the cataract and cancer, my deaf and blind pup’s heart is still thumping, his blood pumping. He has made several recoveries.
Lazarus, that is he.
Greeting the grave, then rising again.
This deteriorating being echoes of what once was our mortal enemy. Death. But. In Christ, there is no fear in death. We are like my dying pup. We are fragile beings. We need our Master to look after our ever waking need.
While we live, we live not in our own strength. For we are weak – we stumble, we fall. When we slip, we don’t slide unless there’s a hand guiding us to a new ground, a surface where we can stand again. And we need water to survive.
Living water. That’s all that keeps us flowing with true life. This river of life, the Spirit inside. This Jesus, who made a way. The one who bore our pain, our suffering, our sin – taking the solid food when we couldn’t. We can’t stomach the sacrifice he made for us to be saved. What a gift it is to be drip-fed grace! When we are not deserving.
Oh! How he loves.
We are loved.
And that is enough.
Oh how he cares and tends.
Oh how he heals and mends.
He is merciful to the end!
When we were at deaths door,
He opened up victory,
Defeating the grave,
Claiming life in his name.
He spoke life into being and he breathes grace into the broken, dark, deathly places . Though we were once blind, dead in our sins. In Christ, we can see and are free. Free indeed! Though we see now only dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12). For to live is Christ, to die is gain (Philippians 1:7). And one day. We will more than taste and see the Lord’s goodness (Psalm 34:8). This is why we continue in faith. Holding fast, remaining firm. The promise of eternal life with he – he who prepares a wedding feast. His love is for eternity.
“As for you, let what you have heard from the beginning remain in you. If it does, you will also remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He Himself made to us: eternal life.” – 1 John 2:24-5
“ For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12-3