We’ve recently returned from a 2 week vacation in warmer climes. We left knowing a dear friend had been given months to live after a protracted fight with bone cancer. We expected to come home to spend some more time with her, but it was as if being told she had weeks to months left gave her permission to go home and she went to Jesus within days of the start of our trip. As we were winging our way south to Florida to begin our trip, I wrote my friend a letter that I’m not sure she actually got before her death. The things that I pondered with her she now knows in fact. Here is an excerpt from that letter.
“I’ve thought some about death in the past and even more in the last few weeks. I often think of death as a form of birth. Can you imagine what a baby at full term must think and feel? That last few weeks have to be incredibly uncomfortable as the baby’s ‘accommodations’ become inhospitable at the least. As the mother’s body begins the birth process I’d think there would actually be pain and fear. The infant must wonder what is going on? The only world they’ve ever known is pushing them and constricting them and causing them pain. Even though a baby can’t ‘name’ it or fully comprehend it, what is happening must feel like a death. And then birth itself — what a huge change in experience! From darkness, warmth, constriction, muted noise, and a steady rhythm of life to unbearable light and unrestricted movement and loud sound and cold and chaos! It must be terrifying — yet what immense new life and opportunities!
One of the biggest changes I imagine is in relationship. Prior to birth there is only one relationship for a baby – the relationship with Mom. It is totally intimate and dependent, yet so distant and inscrutable. After birth, relationship increases exponentially as knowledge and understanding of Mom increases, but so does knowledge of Dad, other family, friends and acquaintances. I think all of life is a picture of our next life, only a very dim picture. I can only imagine the ‘more-ness’ of heaven. Every day of this life is lived in intimacy and dependency on our Lord – and yet the relationship feels so distant and inscrutable. What will it be in heaven? Think of what it will be to interact with those already there!! I can’t wait! I’m confident that all the physical constraint you’ve endured here – especially the last couple of years — will be healed and more.”
Barbara, dear friend, you will be missed here, but I can’t wait to see you again! Enjoy your face-to-face with Jesus and say ‘hi’ to Becky for me!
“Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different. You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies – humans, animals, birds, fish – each unprecedented in its form. You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies – sun, moon, stars – all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre-resurrection “seeds” – who can imagine what the resurrection “plants” will be like! This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body – but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural – same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!” 1st Corinthians 15:45-44 The Message