If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that a few weeks ago I introduced you to a delightful website where you could view a live cam on an active eagle’s nest. Yesterday I was saddened to learn that the mother eagle at this nest had been hit by an airplane and killed. This eagle had been taking wonderful care of her three eaglets and had touched the hearts of thousands of people across the globe. This horrible accident was just another reminder how fragile life is and how death is an inevitable part of life.
The picture you see above was taken on the hill in my back yard. This skull was here when we moved into our house three years ago. I elected not to remove it. Why? I felt it would serve as a useful reminder to me of my own mortality. A lot of us live our lives as though we will never die. The fact is we all will one day die unless Christ returns first. This cow’s skull makes me mindful that I should live my life with the end in mind. It makes me want to do all I can to make life meaningful while I have the chance.
There are certainly a lot of reminders in nature that death is a part of life. When we look around us we see dead animals on the side of the road, trees that have died, and plants that have perished. In God’s wonderful economy death actually plays a key role in the giving of life. Plants and animals return to the soil and make it more fertile. Through death life goes on.
Some feel that this same cycle is what we face as humans. We live, we die and then we return to dust. That’s it. The Scriptures, however, point to something else. Here too we learn that death leads to life but the difference is that in God’s hands we are restored to life ourselves. This, of course, is the message we celebrated a few days ago on Easter. The consistent testimony of the New Testament is that life goes on for those who follow Christ. For these death becomes the entranceway to life on a far higher level than that we experience here on earth. (What happens to other living creatures is not clearly noted in the Scriptures; I can only hope that they too are a part of the “new creation” the Bible talks about.)
When the words are paired we usually see them in this order—life and death. God would have us reverse this order and see that life follows death. Obviously we live now and are meant to make the most of life here on earth. We do this by loving God, our neighbors, ourselves and God’s Creation but it is comforting to know that this life is not all that we have. There is more—so much more—to come once we pass through death to life and the home God prepares for us even now.
(The bottom picture was taken at Joshua Tree National Park. The shadows on the rocks remind me of the words found in Psalm 23: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”)