Death's soothing sharpness

A while back I listened to a Rob Bell podcast about a funeral director named Caleb Wilde who had a positive death narrative like the one I have been trying to develop. It was a very good listen and I think that Wilde has hit upon some key areas and fleshed them out to a greater extent than I have. Maybe, being a funeral director, he has had to, but maybe he is just more perceptive than I am. At any rate, he made a statement where he said that we are "uncomfortable" around death because it is something that we are not familiar with. I can see where he is coming from with that perspective. I mean, the physical death of a cherished one is relatively rare in my life - especially as youngish as I am. The death of those I cherish will accelerate as I get older, but up to this point I have only grieved hard a couple of times.

On the other hand, though, I find a perspective different than that of Wilde. I see death every day. I don't think the difference that I have with the funeral director is a matter of definition. I truly do see death every day. Even the death that he sees and touches; embalms and buries. My faith, my position in Christ, has me as close to death as he is. Dare I say, closer? I die everyday to something and come alive to something else.

This very minute, I am dead to my wife and sons. Not that they are "dead to me" as some are in the habit of saying. They live in my mind and spirit. But, I am separated from them to such an extent that I literally have no idea where they could be or what they could be doing. That's mind blowing to me. That's....death. The separation of me from someone or something is exactly that. I have died to them and they have died to me.

I think that, more often than not, I miss the recognition of death and, as a result, become unfamiliar with it because I do not follow hard after Christ. Jesus came to separate me from that which would kill me. From the one who would kill me. When he did that, he allowed me to partake in the tearing down of the very thing that separated me from God and from others: my sin. He also invited me to be crucified with him. Daily. To die every day to myself and to come alive to him and to others. As I die I know Christ more completely; I know death more completely. I am becoming more Christ like as I embrace death more perfectly.

If I bristle at death and shake in his presence it is, simply put, because I have not cared enough to stare long enough into the eyes of his master, my Lord and God. It is he who has offered me to taste the bitter honey, stinging warmth, and soothing sharpness of his slave and bring me into his fullness through his service.


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