Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pilgrim's Progress: the River of Death

Have you ever walked with someone through death? I have, although only a very small part of the way. I will always be grateful for the honesty of this godly man, because he didn't white-wash his experience with platitudes or empty confidence. He spoke openly of his grief at leaving this world, his fear of the unknown, and his loneliness at facing the loneliest journey of all. He also shared his confidence of going to heaven. His grandchildren will never forget the day he told them that only trust in Jesus can comfort us when we're dying. He died well as he had lived well.

That experience did away with two (incompatible!) assumptions about death for me. The first is that death is too terrifying to be spoken of or imagined: it's easy to live in a state of denial when we're so well protected from death in our society. The second is that death is easy for Christians: even when you're confident of going to heaven, death can still be scary, ugly, and lonely. But how much less lonely when we know that the One we have loved and known all our lives is waiting to welcome us!

Death was closer in the 17th century. John Bunyan lost his first wife, his beloved pastor, his unborn baby, and his darling 13 year old daughter Mary, within 4 years. ... As a pastor, he sat by death-beds and walked with many to the brink of death. ... Dying well was part of living well for the Puritans. ...

Read the rest at EQUIP book club today.

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