Shortly after returning from a month in Florida last week, my Dad went to the ER and then was hospitalized for several days for heart and lung issues. I’m not ready to lose my Dad. We’ve had too many wasted years in the past that I regret and our friendship is better than ever now. He’s the one that I think of to call when there is something I want to share about a golf tournament, for example. I can’t imagine him not being there to call.
During this time we had wonderful Good Friday and Easter services. In our Easter service both our choir and the congregation had the opportunity to sing Matt Maher’s powerful song “Christ has Risen”, which features the following lyrics:
Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave!
Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
Our God is not dead, He’s alive! He’s alive!
On Easter evening, I received a call from my sister. My heart fell as I assumed it was bad news about my Dad. Instead, it was news that a good friend of ours had died after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Teresa, like the Apostle Paul had fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. (2 Tim. 4:7). Though we knew the odds were against her, it still came as a shock, having enjoyed a wonderful dinner with her a little over two months ago, hearing that the new chemo mix was working and that she felt and looked great.
The next day I heard that a former team member had died as well. Joan was a wonderful Christian woman and the mother of a friend. She too had bravely battled cancer.
Yesterday our community was rocked with the loss of seven men who were returning from the Men’s NCAA Basketball Championship game in Indianapolis late Monday night. They were killed when their small plane crashed, most likely due to the heavy fog in the area. As the news slowly got out about the victims, we heard that one was the husband of a peer of mine that I had been in a meeting with just the day before. Another was the co-owner of a bar that had sponsored my brother’s softball team for 20 years. Two were in the Illinois State University Athletics department, including Associate Head Coach Torrey Ward. See Shepard Smith’s emotional comments about Ward on Fox News:
As we were talking about the loss, a team member mentioned to me that her parents, both Christians, were ready to go home. They were ready. That is the question that I always think of when I hear of an unexpected loss. Isn’t that really all that matters in a time like that?
Bob Dylan stated it so well in his song “Are You Ready?” which includes the lyrics:
Are you ready to meet Jesus?
Are you where you ought to be?
Will He know you when He sees you
Or will He say, “Depart from Me”?
When destruction cometh swiftly
And there’s no time to say a fare-thee-well
Have you decided whether you want to be
In heaven or in hell?
Have you got some unfinished business?
Is there something holding you back?
Are you thinking for yourself
Or are you following the pack?
Are you ready, I hope you’re ready
Believers take heart. Yes, death is the final enemy (1 Cor. 15:26), but we have victory in Christ ~“Death is swallowed up in victory!”
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15: 54-57)