Life in Death

From February 26, 2007

I lost a dear friend of mine recently -- twenty-two years suddenly cut short by an ill-fated black ice patch on an Arkansas interstate. When the news first broke, I felt as if I was being sliced open by a Kutko knife. The recovery process in its initial stages was brutal --anything but “smooth sailing”, a journey to which some of you can relate. But as I reflected on her life and the events surrounding her passing, I struck a reservoir of what seemed to be premature contentment. At first I questioned if I was handling the situation properly; however, the more I processed and digested my emotions and thoughts concerning her death, the more I began to tap into a new understanding of what it truly means to live.

Emmy didn’t just believe in God, she lived for Him; her very words and actions echoed a burning passion to follow Christ. I had the opportunity to become close friends with her last year as her physics lab partner. While she wasn’t a stunning blonde or a “Miss America” type, she possessed something that was of far greater significance: a strong willingness to give of herself. Whether time, energy, or faith, Emmy shined as one who took delight in serving those less fortunate. Her positive attitude was contagious, and simple hang-time with her closest friends was enough evidence for me to truly know she was leaving her own unique legacy to those around her.

But knowing this only made the pain worse from the get-go. I had to “POE” (“Process of Elimination”) away negative mindsets, mentally check-marking all the wrong ways to respond to the news. Denial…check! Anger at God…check! Believing I could never overcome the loss…check!

After eliminating all unnecessary reactions, the heartbreak had transformed into a most unusual joy. At this point, I decided to meditate on the meaning and realities of death, and how it signifies the beginning of a perfect existence, compared to the ending of a natural one, which pales in comparison.

A friend of my father’s, who pastored “Church on the Way” in Orange County, California once said, “A believer in Christ never dies an hour too early, or an hour too late.” I’ve been imagining all the comebacks that could possibly be thrown out in response to this statement. Emmy lived more in twenty-two years than some people live in seventy or eighty years. Great! So why couldn’t see live another fifty, sixty years living in a way that was just as productive and fulfilling?

Questions along these lines only remind me of how limited our natural minds are. We are a people who hate not having the answers, and the truth of the matter doesn’t change even when discussing life’s greatest mysteries. So I can completely see why the ‘Ask Jeeves’ culture we live in today would cringe at any response along the lines of, “There are some things in this life no one understands.”

Boring! What a [cop]-out, Camoron! There’s no brilliance in that statement!

Ah ha! Flaw exposed! I’ve been wondering why we so often waste time seeking intelligence over what is pure, what is right, what is just, and what is true. If we desire an intelligent solution to explain life’s million dollar questions, would it not come out of searching for these values? What some see as an easy escape route, I see as absolute truth. The moment we realize our very existence on this earth is only the beginning of something far greater than our natural minds can ever perceive, the moment we take on a bracing freedom that transcends all knowledge and all pleasure.

If life loses its mysterious element, what joy is there when we encounter the unpredictable…the unexplainable? If we held all the answers, everything would become predictable and expected. Is it wrong to ask, “Why?” No! What I am saying is that we can’t expect to find the answers every single time we come to a crossroads and can’t find the words. Our mental limitations are not in vain. I believe the fact we can’t understand everything that happens in this life is an intentional plan to bring us to a crucial realization that we are not alone. We were not created to live and die, but live and live eternally through faith in Jesus Christ.

And knowing where Emmy is today, singing in the largest choir in the universe, worshipping God, I cannot help but sit here overwhelmed with that same, perhaps not so unusual, joy.

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