DID YOU KNOW YOU NEVER DIE?
Old Ponce de Leon spent a lot of time looking for the ‘fountain of youth’ for nothing! If only he had known nobody ever dies, perhaps he’d be famous for more than discovering Florida.
My mother recently died, she would have been ninety-nine October eighth. Her death is a time of rejoicing as she is with the Lord; and she is once again in her right-mind. Our family will hold a Memorial Ceremony for her next weekend at our home-church. She chose to be cremated, so her earthly remains will be in a container. I must admit the very idea of her in a container gives me pause; but, her flesh is gone, but her soul is alive.
In the second book of Genesis, God details how man is different that all of creation: he blew his spirit into man’s nostrils: he gave man a soul. Man wasn’t designed to die; his sin became part of the punishment the Creator gave to mankind for disobedience. Beside physical death, he increased a woman’s pain in childbirth, forced Adam to work his fingers to the bone to eke out an existence, and put Eve and him in a spiritual ‘Time-out’: drove them from the Garden of Eden.
Did you know that the punishment for Adam’s sin also fell upon all of creation? The Apostle Paul declares in Romans eight that even the universe groans, as if in pains of childbirth, because it is living in its ‘un-natural’ condition. In Revelations twenty-one, John reports he saw a New Heaven and a New Earth coming down from Heaven (a New Jerusalem). Until Jesus returns to judge the believers and the unbelievers final resting place: heaven or hell, all of creation will remain under this curse.
The prophet Ezekiel declared in the eighth chapter: “The soul who sins shall die.” That man of the cloth spoke the truth! All of mankind does die…physically. If one doesn’t choose to believe the testimony of Christ before he dies physically, when the useless physical shell releases the soul, he will find himself in hell…immediately. How can we know this? In the sixteenth chapter, Luke tells about Jesus’ parable of the rich man and the poor man Lazarus, both died, and found themselves in far different circumstances than when they were on earth: the rich man had worldly pleasures; Lazarus suffered in a state of physical and financial poverty. The rich man was in torment in Hell; Lazarus was in Paradise. How can we know this is true? Jesus told the thief on the cross that he’d be with him in Paradise that day he died. In great torment, the rich man begged to return to earth to warn his family about the horrible consequences of rejecting Christ. His request was denied. He was told there is a great chasm/divide between the two places where believers and non-believers reside…and none can cross over to the other side
How can we know the soul never dies? God is Spirit! Jesus is the only person who was fully God and fully man. When he died, neither his body nor spirit died…they were both resurrected. How do we know that is true? His disciples recognized his resurrected body; he instructed Thomas to put his hands into the wounds he received while being tortured and nailed to a cross. What will our heavenly bodies look like? I don’t know. In Corinthians fifteen, Paul assures us we will all be translated…in a blink of the eye; and given a glorified, resurrected body like Christ’s. What that will actually look like? I know it will be more beautiful than you or I can imagine!
I believe America has fallen in love with evil! Every type of entertainment is designed to enhance its beauty; even Dracula has become a Don Juan. All manner of quasi machine/mankind droids are depicted as some monster that possesses goodness. This ‘false-god’ syndrome allows one to somehow step into the midst of Hell’s burning fire and not get singed.
Unfortunately for these ‘Devil worshippers’, life isn’t a game that can be electronically maneuvered. All un-repentant unbelievers will suffer the same fate as Satan: …”And the Devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophets had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Rev.20:10
What does death look like? What does it feel like? For this man, the following is my portion.
Jessie Almeda Crandall Grady was born in Bentonville, Ark on October 8, 1914. She was one of a dozen children. She never made a fortune, was never famous, except for possibly being considered somewhat famous in El Reno, Oklahoma. She was married to Paul (Pete) Grady, a Rock Island railroader for forty-nine years. She has five living children: Sharon Sinclair, Ranny, Linda Hinkle, Danny, and Pamela Chandler. She has six Grandchildren, and many Great-grandchildren.
At various times in her life, she had the singular distinction of being the oldest choir member at this church, the oldest Pink-Lady volunteer at the hospital, and the oldest Election board member of this County. I recall often calling her on Wednesdays and not able to reach her. Her exclamation: I was a Pink-Lady today; I was out taking care of the old people. At the time she was ninety and older than nearly all of the patients she took care of. She enjoyed a bit of being a ‘celebrity’ as her life bloomed in a novel she provided the history for: Lou’s Dirty Dozen.
Our entire Grady family thanks all of you for coming today to celebrate this remarkable woman’s life. Many of you have your own personal story you can recall as your life mingled with her’s. May we all mourn her death, but celebrate her life.
DID YOU KISS YOUR MOMMA GOODBYE?
My mother died last week; she was nearly ninety-nine. As I stood and gazed at her incrementally dying body and found her emaciated face corpse-like though still breathing, I closed my eyes, whispered a mournful prayer, and I was suddenly and wonderfully transported back to the time I was a child.
From the time I was twelve, Wednesday nights were special: my dad and I; sometimes my younger brother, Danny, tagged along, went to the dime movie whenever a Western was featured. It seems odd now, but not then, whenever I left the house, I always kissed my father on the lips; sometimes my mother. Usually it was a ‘kiss on the cheek’ and a hug for momma. As we would be departing for the movie, my father would ask me, “Did you kiss your momma goodbye?”
That question pulsed through my being as I stood over Momma and my life’s story seemed to become film filled with flesh and blood characters.
When a parent dies, my father died over thirty years ago; and now Momma, I think the hardest challenge in a child’s life is to be left with the undeniable truth that, like all humans, their parents were flawed and sinful people, not iconic gods that could put Superman to shame for heroics. From the lightning-bright glow in a child’s eyes each and every time the names of their parents were mentioned to the dull shine we all are left with when we are forced to recognize, as adults, that our parents were never worthy of worship; but always of honor and respect, each child suffers a little as their parents fall off the pedestal of perfection and their god-like figure’s legs crack and lose their beauty and strength to remain up-right.
Too often our adult vision of reality skews the wondrous events of what our parents actually gave us and the legacy they left us is often under-appreciated…until they go the way of all flesh.
My mother’s death is no different. Since her passing I have focused upon what she gave me rather than what I may have desired. To name just a few blessings she gave me and my siblings because she loved Jesus Christ and believed God’s bible was the ‘Book of Wisdom’: she introduced us to Jesus; she provided us with a lapsed-Catholic father, who served this church as a deacon for decades, who I thought ‘hung the moon’. She gave us life from the fruit of her womb. She talcum and spanked our dreariers, even with a switch, when needed so we’d grow up to be a useful adult whom God could be proud of. She nearly ruined the health of her knees as she spent too much time on them on behalf of her children. She brought us ‘Chicken-soup’ when we were ill; and, her un-relenting ‘Mom’s nursing care healed us much more than doctors or medicine ever did. She suffered untold misery as she prayed all of us kids through fits of measles, mumps, chicken-pox, and as adults, a plethora of ailments and ‘boo-boos’ caused mostly by her children’s stupidity.
Many of her best life’s lessons were modeled not just taught: she served hot-meals to the sick and needy, and volunteered her ‘elbow-grease’ to the less fortunate…regardless of race, creed, or religion; she believed a mother’s most valuable work was taking care of her home, children and husband, and often declared it. We Grady kids grew up poor and didn’t really know it because we were rich in the thing that mattered most: being loved and cared for as children.
Would that we all might heed the apostle Paul’s teaching: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things…”
Momma went the way of all mankind and all that was left was a piece of bone and a hank of hair before she died. She believed in Jesus Christ as the Creator of this universe, God’s only son who died for her sins, and she is now prepared to live eternally in the presence of Christ when he returns to claim his believers and the ‘dead in Christ shall rise first’.
My fervent prayer is that all of my siblings will one day be reunited with our father and mother in heaven. We are planning a great party, why don’t you join us?
Yes Pop, I remembered to ‘kiss Momma goodbye’.
October 1, 2013
Until next time Pilgrims, protect you soul.