Rock, Paper, Scissors, Spock, Lazarus

Dead things hold little promise.
Death is a line that, once crossed, carries a weight worthy of holy pause.
I remember sitting one Sunday morning service behind a man who was dead by three that day. After church, he and a fellow pilot friend took off for an afternoon flight and crashed.
For days, when I closed my eyes, I saw the back of his head and felt the weight of death.
Breathing one moment, breathless the next.
And it happens with any life, no matter how small.  I was in the room when the vet injected our seventeen-year-old family cat with the final solution.
I knew it was time.
It had been a long time coming.
I was prepared
I thought
Until that last breath – the final gasp when her exhale wasn’t answered with a mirroring inhalation of air.
It sucks the air out of life.
Like a sucker punch
A belly fop
A face plant.
A dead drop.
Media makes death palatable through artful lighting, well-crafted sets, and slick camera angles.
But when death is in the room with us, when we stand close enough to sense a tug on our own mortality, it’s as unpalatable as a scream, a retch, a convulsion, a fist in the throat.
Death has an unmistakable odor.
When you’ve inhaled it once, you know it ever after.
“That’s smell of death,” you’ll say after the first whiff.
“Are you sure?” someone who’ve never encountered it before will ask. But, they’ll never ask that again.
Doctors work miracles every day
And they know they are kings
Until the moment their efforts fail, they switch off the screeching monitors and note the time of death.
In that moment, they are not kings
But peasants living under a death sentence themselves
looking themselves in the mirror, checking to see if they can still make it fog.
So, it’s understandable when men and women of Biblical times were confused
Whenever God challenged death to a dual.
God brought Ezekiel to a valley of dry bones and asked, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
Ezekiel knew death
But he had enough faith in God to answer, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
Ezekiel 37 goes on to record what happened next:
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
Death is only death until Life touches it.
Like rock, paper, scissors, Spock – life always conquers death – not the other way around.
Ask Martha.
Martha knew death.
She was the woman of the house and the women of the house in Biblical times looked death in the face.
Their loved ones died at home
They washed the bodies, prepared the herbs, wrapped the breathless corpses of loved ones who’d shared their table hours earlier, and carried them to their tombs.
No sanitized funeral director to stand in the gap.
Just the woman of the house and a breathless shell.
So when Jesus instructed Martha to open her brother’s tomb, she paused, ever practical she reminded him, “Lord, there will be a bad smell.”
But Jesus persisted and she had enough faith to order the tomb opened.
We don’t have to have enough faith to raise dead bones or call out a corpse from the grave – only enough faith to obey the One giving the instructions
To see Life free a soul from death.
I think one of the most powerful exchanges in the Bible is recorded here in John 11:
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Son of Man, can these bones live?
Yes. Yes, they can
And they can inhale and exhale and rise and dance and praise the living God who was and is and is to come.
Is death your companion today? Are you wondering if those bones can rise?
Jesus is the resurrection and the life – the sweet, sweet fragrance of eternity where death is no more
And we are the participants in life eternal.
We are the dead bones that rise.

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    The Conversation

  1. tina hunt says:

    Ten days ago, I was in the presence of that smell. The precious woman of God I had cared for the past five and a half years passed into her final reward. It was such an honor to be with her, to hug each family member as they gathered. And it was such a reminder of all you share here. Thanks.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I saw my father-in-law moments after he died. And I knew he had not accepted Christ as his Savior. In that moment, death was a dreadful thing. I saw my mother on the morning she had died in her sleep. And I knew she had accepted Christ. There was a peace about her death that “passes understanding.”

    At each funeral, I heard the words, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” And I understood that I must never alter my walk in the Way.

  3. A lot of the nonsense at Halloween – skeletons and cemeteries – is our way of thumbing our nose at death. Unfortunately death isn’t impressed by “nyah, nyah, nyah.” Only Jesus can beat death!

  4. Take a look at a remarkable You Tube Video.
    Go Down Death by Wintley Phipps. Sometimes Death IS the only good physician.