On the eve of our celebration of the resurrection experience, here are some thoughts about the process of dying and coming back to life.
While Jesus did his dying relatively quickly by modern standards, most of us will go a lot slower. Because death is an awkward, ungainly process, God sets it up so that we go through it in stages. He wants to help us adjust to the notion that we get a “do-over.” Not as the reincarnationists would have it with their crazy wipe-the-slate-clean theory (I love the scene from “O Brother Where Art Thou” where the guy says, “We thought you was a toad!”) But an opportunity to meet the one who knit us together and loves us with an unending love.
So God pries our hands off life’s steering wheel, so to speak, in three stages. First, as we see the sands of the hour glass dwindling down, we begin to die to our dreams. We think, “You know, I’m not going to have enough time to get this thing done.” Or, “Man, other people are passing me by; I’m kind of average.” That’s a kind of a death.
Second, we die to our body. At 47, this is starting to happen to me. Hair thins, eyes weaken, joints creak – oh, oh, I’m on the downside of life. The irony is that while it is so predictable, we are so surprised about it.
Third, we die to our spirit. You see this in the vacant stares of the elderly who have died already. Taken out of context, it feels like a very sad thing.
God is not a sadist; He wants us to make peace with the process when it happens naturally. He actually did it the hard way.