My grandma died when she was 62, and that was way too early.
Our rides in her beat-up old, red car that we lovingly referred to as “the Klunker,” our hot summer evening talks on her front porch, and our quick trips to the local restaurant with the best milkshakes in town. They were all cut short by an insidious and dreadful disease called Alzheimer’s.
She would never get a chance to meet my beautiful wife or hold my kids in her arms.
Neither would my grandpa, who died of cancer when he was 80.
When I held his hand as he lay asleep in his hospital bed just a couple of days before he died, I thought about the countless nights I spent at his house, the smell of breakfast and pipe smoke each morning, his flat-top haircut, and either a Bible on his lap or “The Andy Griffith Show” on the television.
Some memories never fade.
But while there is immense joy in being able to remember all of the time we spent together, it is coupled with the haunting reminder that we have absolutely no power over death. Whether it is my grandma, my grandpa, me, or even you, our end is certain.
And that reality, our powerlessness to death, is one of utter sadness and despair, because death is our final ending.
So much for family and friends and relationships.
So much for our pursuits and endeavors.
So much for parties and celebrations and having friends over for dinner.
So much for art and music and creativity.
So much for sunsets and mountains and shooting stars.
So much for the smell of breakfast in the morning and sitting on front porches in the summer.
It all comes to a crushing, brutal and inconsequential end in death.
And you can’t help but feel as if we have been short-changed somehow, like it all should have meant something. All of this time on earth for absolutely nothing in the end — except for the assurance of death.
But if death is our end, and our end is meaningless and inconsequential, then wouldn’t all things leading to that end be meaningless and inconsequential as well?
Said another way: If death is the end toward which all life is moving … then why does anything in our lives matter at all? Why ascribe any purpose to it whatsoever? It is all death in the end, anyway.
Yet we live and breathe and act each day as if it matters, like it has some sort of importance or significance. We ironically fight for life as if it is worth something, like it has meaning and value.
We grieve when loved ones die. We treat cancer and search for the cure for AIDS and go to the family doctor and try to eat healthy … because we prefer life over death. We spend our time, energy and resources protecting and defending life and standing for those who cannot defend themselves.
But why do this if it is all death in the end and life is of no consequence? Why do we even have a preference for life over death? Why involve ourselves in any pursuit or endeavor while we are alive? Why waste our time on anything at all?
Why should we paint and design and build? Why should we continue to create and imagine and dream? Why play music and write stories and cry when there are happy endings in movies and plays?
I think the answer is simple: Death is not our end.
And if death is not our end, and if there is actually a purpose toward which we are moving, then all things leading toward that purpose are full of meaning and are well worth our time.
That is precisely why the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so important for humanity, because it gives us hope and assurance that, while we were powerless against death, only God has the power to defeat it. Therefore life, not death, is the purpose toward which we are moving and everything we do to that end is valuable.
That is the very foundation of faith. It is the belief that God is working toward the renewal of all things, and by virtue of asking God to be the active and present center of our lives, we begin participating in that renewal right now. It is a life that looks like Jesus in everything we do.
And it is that reality, God’s power and victory over death demonstrated in Jesus Christ, which is the pinnacle of human happiness and joy … because life prevails and gives us meaning and purpose today.
Family and friends and relationships all matter.
Parties and celebrations and having friends over for dinner is a foretaste of how life will be one day.
Art and music and creativity are a reflection of what we were made to do and what we will continue to do at the renewal of all things.
Sunsets and mountains and shooting stars are a present glimpse of new creation when death is finally exhausted.
And yes, the smell of breakfast in the morning and sitting on front porches in the summer with everyone we love are just the beginning of how good life will be when Christ returns.
No more pain. No more tears. No more death. No more decay.
So live and breathe and act each day as if it matters, like it has some sort of importance or significance … because it does!
For in Christ’s resurrection, all things are made new.
Even and especially you.
Columbus’ Brandon Andress is a former church leader and a contributor to the online Outside the Walls blog. He can be reached at his website andthentheendwillcome.com or brandonandress.com.