Now that I’m in my mid-seventies I’m thinking more about my own death. I used to say, “When I die I’m really going to miss myself.” Not so funny anymore. I’m actually troubled by death. I sometimes find myself in the ‘dark night of the soul’, to use a phrase from St. John of the Cross (ancient guy now dead).
If I don’t write these thoughts down I fear they will haunt me. Two months ago my brother died. Then several friends. And many obituaries I read list more people my age and younger. My body parts are aging and need more attention. Doctor visits are becoming a part-time job. My wife tells me I need a hobby that takes me out of my head, whatever that means.
Faith? Yes, I have faith in God. I trust Jesus whose own death surely weighed heavily upon him at times. I read the Psalms that often begin with complaints about being forgotten by God but end on a more thankful note for God’s providence. Perhaps I have yet to embrace an acceptance ‘with joy’ that enabled Jesus to endure the cross because he was so assured of God’s eternity.
This death preoccupation is the shadowy part of my trust in Christ. “I believe”, I say resoundingly, “but Lord please help my unbelief.” And just maybe this darkness or emptiness I am feeling is preparing my soul for God’s spirit to find a better dwelling within me.
I know God is not angry with me over my doubts. God loves me right here and right now in the depth of my despair. There is no place I can escape his gracious gaze and encouragement. Even as I write these words I am feeling some sense of peace.
I long for other Christian people to walk alongside me on this journey for in their grace and understanding comes the hope that eternity will become more real than any dread.
P.s. More to come…….