To The Other Shore
I was thinking of death this week; not a specific death, mine or another’s, but death in general. My focus wasn’t on the preliminaries of death: the decline into frailty by disease nor the suddenness of accident and injury. I was trying to imagine what the journey of death is like. What is the actual transition of moving from this life to the next? The Bible is silent about the event. The Scriptures declare the certainty of life to come, but you won’t find a description of the transforming. We are assured of our destination but told nothing about the trip there! Since we can never know until it actually happens, we are left to speculate.
God leaves clues about life to come scattered in the life that is. The parables of Jesus were heavenly truths discovered in the familiar. Paul uses sleep as a metaphor of death. Poets like John Donne made our demise approachable by using sleep as a mimic of death. If death is but a sleep and we awake to a new life, consider this. Some mornings I awake with a jolt. My alarm jerks me to my feet and the day begins. But there are days when the alarm is not set and I am left to my own rousing - a more gradual process. It often goes like this. I am dreaming and content to stay there. But, I begin to hear some soft noises from the room. They get incorporated into my dreams, to the point that I’m not sure what is illusion or real. I feel the restlessness of my body beginning to stir. I sense the weight of blankets or the breeze from a window. The real world pushes on my illusions with sound and touch. The glimmer of day invades my shadows. And when I hear my name called, my eyes open to a new day. I have no proof, but I envision the transition of death in a similar way.
There will be those that hear a blast of Gabriel’s trumpet alerting them instantly to new life. But regardless of our generation, we cling to this life. It is all we know. It’s a place where our dreams seem genuine. But death comes to move us. We may hear angelic sounds faintly. The weight of glory and the breeze of worship invite us to arise. Our soul begins to stir. The brightness of the Son penetrates our darkness. And then, you hear your name whispered. It’s not a generic call, but the one who called Lazarus by name, speaks just to you. His Voice is tender. His Voice is power. He calls to you with a name that you’ve never been called by before. It’s a new name, but you recognize it as your own - an intimate gift. Your eyes open. You see perfectly. Your eyes, mind, heart, and soul are as clear as crystal. You are awake, alive and animated by the surge of the Spirit. You turn to the One who called you. Having followed Him all your days, you are found. Eternal life. Eternal love.