I’ve come face to face with an enemy in the last few days. Horrid, twisted, silent, devilish. Capable of immense devastation. One who delights at ripping hearts to bits, creating bottomless wells of emotion I don’t really know how to deal with. An enemy that masks himself in laughter and old stories to hide the pain – maybe hide is not correct – to endure the pain. An enemy that stalks an entire crowd even as they gather to remember and honor one of his victims.
I despise his frothing malice, his knowing sneer, his absolute confidence of victory. I stand like an angry, red-faced child looking at him, powerless to stop his pursuit and his reckless arrogance. I want to scream at him, pound my fists into his chest, and make him go away. I want him to die! And that’s exactly what Death wants of me.
And yet I know something very keenly. I know in that room where the crowd gathered and he stalked and weighed out his next victim he lost a little bit. Some of his power was drained. I’m certain of this because there was a room full of living, loving people gathered to remember Life and a Loved one. We filled the room with a humble defiance of everything our enemy stands for. We determined to push back at his callous advance. We set aside rivalries and bitterness and misunderstanding, knowing them to be petty and small compared to the reality of life that pulsed around us. We hugged, laughed, and said uncomfortable things but we lived and in so doing, frightened our scowling adversary!
Many of us in the room knew even more. We know this enemy as a shriveling coward, striking from a secret place, never showing himself, always skulking around the corners of life, too ashamed to crawl out from his shadowy lair. We know his influence is relegated to a passing time. He knows even as he rages that his end is certain. The day is coming when this monster Death will begin his eternal dying. Right now for many, death has no sting! He has been rendered utterly impotent by one with power - unrivaled, unimaginable, raw, limitless, death crushing, life exuding power!
Even as I watched death celebrating in the corner I knew he couldn’t see the brightness and glory of his conqueror towering over him. He chuckled like a scorned and lonely bully, taking pleasure in causing pain, but his laughter hollowed out in the presence of a resounding peal of victory. I know the truth. I know that Life stands ready to annihilate death. I know there is a resurrection. I know that death cowers in the reality of his certain defeat.
I know that Jesus Christ said, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me will never die.” Nobody talks like this unless they are insane or they can back up the claim. Have any of my friends or loved ones ever told me that they can be my life? Overcome death for me? Conquer my most feared and hated enemy while giving me abundance above and beyond anything I could ever ask or imagine? Either he is capable of doing just what he said or he is an absolute evil. To claim so much and deceive so many would be abominable. If not true, he cannot be considered good. If true, my greatest enemy is slain!
Knowing this, I see death as an insolent whelp; a whimpering, angry, powerless, puny god (to quote a large green man). He’s a pretender, insecure, frightened, anxious, and mean but he is no threat. The Lord Jesus Christ is Lord of the living and the dead. Death has robbed him of none that he has saved. Death is simply the threshold into a ravishing love meant for everyone who will believe. The journey to that threshold begins the moment we die to ourselves and live unto God. My greatest desire is to know for myself and every one of my friends and loved ones that we share this great confidence – Christ has conquered death for me and will raise me up so he can love me eternally. This is my hope for Darren and for everyone who hates death with a holy passion!