Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Living and The Dead

Obviously death, dying and a deep meaning and understanding of life has been on my mind lately. In the Bible I find a very fine line between the living and the dead and that line doesn't always have to do with a beating heart or functional bodily organs. Jesus claims to have come so that we might have life and have it to the full. So obviously some people live lives that are more full than others. We also hear Jesus refer to some people who presumably have decent vital signs from a usual perspective but he calls them "white-washed tombs"...nice to look at but dead and rotting inside.
I have visited this idea many times in the past and quite a bit recently. At my aunts funeral I came to realize more than ever that life and death are defined by God alone and that God's operational definition has little to do with a pulse, blood pressure or functioning brain...but it does have everything to do with the heart.

I hate to single anyone out (not really but I am suppose to feel that way, right?) so I will do my best to speak in code...
My aunt Lynda now lives. She is alive in heaven and I don't question for a minute if she is dead. She lived a life of service to God and others and her incredible faith carried her until God did call her home. We are promised in God's Word that we will never die if we have a life hidden in Him.

By stark contrast, I have another family member who is still alive...according to worldly stipulations anyway. Despite her pulse, she is as cold as a block of dry ice. She has a blood pressure but she is a calloused as the palms of a lumberjack. She may be walking and talking, much to the dismay of many, but she isn't alive. In fact, she has been dead for some time now. I don't know how she died but she did and now she seeks to insure that others die with her...or at least hangout with her in her own grave of pitiful spite, regrettable envy and limitless bitterness. She spews venom when she speaks and no one can cast a shadow of darkness over an already gloomy funeral scene like her.

I pray she will change but nothing has been a catalyst for that change yet. She doesn't have a relationship with those you would think she would die to know, her own child most specifically...and its by her choice I might add. She doesn't seek to know some of her grandchildren...who are really amazing young people, despite her siblings begging her to and reminding her that the people she distances herself from are her own flesh and blood. She is pitiful but it goes beyond that. To me, being pitiful implies that one can't do any better. She is to be pitied but she is also to be avoided. While I hate the plight she has deliberately chosen for herself, I hate more so that she has deliberately chosen it. She will die a physical death one day...alone and bitter, and my regret for her personally will be that she chose to never live.

Until that day, I pray she changes. I pray in some way she can become a more loving and kind person. Forgive my skepticism but I just don't see her changing. I am sorry for her child, grandchildren and others who continue to miss out on life with a mother/grandmother...but under the circumstances, I can't really say that they are missing anything that they would prefer to miss. I hope that hearing the good reputation and legacy of love and service her own sister left behind will mean something to her and will prompt change...in fact, if that didn't touch someone at the funeral I would encourage them to check their pulse...but being alive and being dead is what we are talking about anyway, right?

I pray that we all learn to live a full, abundant life...a life measured in love. If we don't we will be dead...in this life and in the life to come.

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