Rites of Sting

Death's Sting

I ain’t dead yet, so I have no authority to speak on the subject. I take it from the Word that death has lost it’s sting, but in the past few weeks I’ve seen sudden mortality tear up three different families. A grandson gone at the age of eighteen days, a cancer-surviving mother that didn’t, and a church volunteer surprised by an aneurism–the man was three years younger than me.

All three families were believers, so the cliched “in a better place” comforts are likely circulating in the too-silent rooms of the survivors. To be blunt, some days I don’t care that Christ has forgiven my sins as much as I cling to the promise of eternal life. I figure it might take Him that long to explain to me why being forgiven is so important.

In a world that seems less–rather than more–conscious of sin, the awareness of death’s efficiency still ranks and rattles both the sophisticated and the primitive. After being born, becoming dead is our common denominator. And what we can do about it fills our fear and philosophy about as well as anti-wrinkle cream restores the vigor of youth. One might realize that if such potions ever worked, there would never be enough to stock the shelves.

We draw another breath, more or less conscious of the gift it is, and more or less oblivious of what we do to as a culture to the air that retains us. He breathed Life into us, not the other way around.

The part of the plan that escapes us is He is the antidote for when breath fails, when hearts break, and families shrink.

We may reach more of what we can truly call ourselves as we reach others in their grief. They don’t need a platitude as much as the plain courtesy of compassion. He’s not expecting us to explain the higher purpose of what seems a pointless demise. I believe He’s made an allowance for sorrow as a prelude to our future joy. Consider this when it comes your turn to comfort me.

Will Schmit

Will Schmit is a volunteer outreach prison minister for Lifehouse Church in McKinleyville Ca. He is the author of Head Lines A Sixty Day Guide to Personal Psalmistry and Jesus Inside A Prison Minister's Memoir and Training Manual both available at Amazon Books and www.schmitbooks.com. The website also includes poetry, ministry updates, and music downloads from Bring To Glory a CD of spoken word with coffee house jazz.

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