Saturday, April 7, 2012

Oh, Grave, Where is Your Victory?

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
As I contemplate the incomprehensible richness of Easter, one of my dearest friends sits with her father. The veil between this earth and his eternal life is parting. The end is near. I wonder, will Easter bring his Heavenly resurrection?

We had known the end was coming. Dementia and the trauma of a vehicular accident robbed him of his vitality. His decline was slow. It was grueling. Yet, when the call came, it came too soon. The email took my breath away. Knowing the urgency of these hours, I wept for my friend.

That's the way it is for those of us grappling with our humanity. Death, even when it is a relief from suffering, comes too soon. No matter how successful our lives have been nor how long we've lived, few of us will slip away without looking back over our shoulders.

In our humanity, we wish we could tie up the loose ends we are leaving behind. We wish for a chance to finish what we started, to correct the mistakes we've made, and to continue to watch over those we love. Even for those of us who believe in life after death, this fraidy cat world is a hard place to leave.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
A man named Jesus hung on a cross. Had he died as my contemporary, many of us would have shuddered and uttered the words, “He died so young. Too soon. He had so much left to do.” He was only 33 years old. Yet, with his last breath, he uttered the three most powerful words ever spoken:

It is finished. (John 19: 30)

He finished what he came to do. He had no need to look back over his shoulder. There were no loose ends left. He died a perfect death.

Tonight my friend sits where I sat. I can close my eyes and am there again. I hear a silence so deafening that it swallows the hiss and whir and beep of the machines working on her behalf. Alarms sound. Voices come and go. We watch. We wait. We whisper. Up and down the hall, voices hush as our reality begins to fill the intensive care unit.

Another family we have just met is beginning the process we are finishing. In their state of shock and grief, they huddle in a circle, join hands, and begin a whispered prayer for us. A daughter, a daughter of the King, is going home. We are on holy ground. You feel it in the air.

The nurse who has so tenderly cared for my mother this last day on earth leans down and whispers, “Just think, when you wake up again, you will be in the arms of Jesus.” The smile spreads slowly across my mother's face. I think it is a hesitant smile. Her death is coming as a shock.

No one is more surprised by her impending departure than is she. She writes, “Not my will, but his....” At 80 years old, she feels the tug between two worlds. “Time to go, but I have so much left to do, don't I?” her eyes seem to say. I can only guess because the ventilator has stolen her voice.

And then, it is finished.She is gone.

The process repeats itself hour by hour, day in and day out. One imperfect life after another gives way to an imperfect death. In every imperfect death you can hear it if you listen closely. There is an echo. It is the echo of that perfect death suffered by the perfect, earthly Son of God. The echo calls us to him. It is the echo that calls out to answer when we ask, “Who am I? Why am I here? Does anyone care? Do I really matter?” His perfect finish provided the perfect answer to the cry of our soul.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
He finished so that we would never have to utter, “It is finished,” when death comes calling. We matter. We matter so much that he lived and died a perfect death. We matter so much that he conquered death to give us eternal life.

May his perfect finish answer the cry of your soul. May you find peace in him this Easter morn'. May the Lord of the Resurrection fill you with new life and may you be able to say, “Oh, Death, where is your sting?”  (I Corinthians 15: 55)

John 3: 16 (Amplified Bible)
For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([a]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 



  1. Thank you, Tammy. May you and all those who stumble across these words hear His perfect death answer the echo in their souls.

  2. What a blessing to have that particular nurse with you and your mom on the day of her homegoing. "When you wake up you'll be in the arms of Jesus." Precious, precious words!

    Thank you for a great reminder of Jesus' love and life and death.

  3. Oh CA, I was super blessed by this post. One of my favorites so far. God is not the bringer of death, but he is waiting for his children on the other side. So comforting. And, we will get to hang out on Earth again, during the 1,000 year reign, and it'll be fun!