This meditation is deeply personal.
Early this morning a friend in our congregation died; and down in the southern part of our state another friend is nearing the end of this life (both are from cancer). Last night my wife heard news from a former student and friend of hers, that 4 people in her family have died from the virus within a week. It stings.
And then we find out (in the news) that more and more young people are falling victim to this virus.
How many of us have refused to look at it, to think about our mortality? And now -- there is no escaping. Whether it is this or something else, it will happen. Bodies break. They grow older and shorter of breath, and if we live long enough they will get all wrinkly until something gives out. But right now it is here and is all around us like it seldom has been in our lifetimes.
Basically there are 2 ways to die. Yes, I know, outwardly there are thousands of ways. But deep inside there are only 2 ways. With and without something eternal planted in the soul. That is basic. And it is true. No matter how much we heap up, decorate the body, build the illusion, and fight against what we are; we will still be reduced to dust and the years will roll on to the end.
The Apostle John said in his first letter, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. ... For all that is in the world ... is not from the Father .... And the world is passing away along with its desires ..." No matter how you chase, hold on to it, and fight to keep it, finally it is lost. And if there is nothing eternal in you so are you.
But the same Apostle John also tells something deeply personal and very real. "What was from the beginning [he's talking about Jesus, and listen how he talks] which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked on and have touched with our hands ..." There are only 2 ways to die, and one of them is with something eternal planted in your soul. Jesus came from eternity, bringing words from eternity, and planted them in John's soul. He walked with them and they watched the acts of God, acts of kindness and healing, forgiveness and even humility, acts of God that are also from eternity, and Jesus took those eternal acts and through the eyes and through the experience of John He put those into John's soul. And Jesus touched, broke bread and fed, knelt down and washed the feet, and invited the disciples to touch Him and see that He had risen; and He put the cross and the empty tomb deep within John's soul. By the time Jesus was done John was so filled up with eternal things that the stuff of this world could not compare. And the most eternal of everything was Jesus Himself, within the soul, a Guide and Friend unlike any other
That's why John talked the way he did; and Paul, and Peter, and on and on down through the years, and Herb, and Marcia too. It is the way of dying with the eternal there within the soul. It is so completely different from the other way, that it is absolutely the opposite of the other.
Oh, you won't get it with your own searching along your own spiritual path; and you won't achieve it by getting yourself "centered" within your own self. The only way to find the eternal is in the One who is from eternity, who came to walk with John, and bring the words of eternity to you too. His plan is to hold on to you with His eternal things and keep you when your time comes. And that is a true Friend, the one we need more than any other in these days.
Lord Jesus, I look around and everything is changing. Nothing lasts. And I look within, and look at myself and I am only temporary too! But You are eternal. You have life that does not fail. You have eternal words with eternal truths. Speak them deep within me. Fill the eyes of my soul with Your cross and Your broken tomb; and so fill me again with hope and courage for today. And for all the days ahead be with me as my friend. I need a True Friend. Amen.