This morning my Coffee and Contemplation is on life, abundant life –– through a reflection on death. I recognize the subject is… …morbid. But it is needful for grounding ourselves to the never-ceasing reality of human life which is so much larger than our biological life. This reflection is personal; actually, quite personal. It is a rambling reflection and a somber subject, I know… …but it is also joyous. It was needful for my own heart, but is worth sharing to others because someone else needs this sort of reflection too.
So, let’s start with the feature image posted for this article. It is the baptism certificate for my son Terry, who I adopted with his brother Mark in 1985. I am celebrating Terry’s baptism today, October 8, 2023, because today marks 2 years since Terry’s body died here on earth and he continued into never-ceasing life with our Creator. I know this will seem to be a morbid detail, but Terry’s ashes still rest in an urn awaiting a day on which (by his own request) he will be “dumped randomly in the woods somewhere.” He wasn’t much for fanfare. He would not have appreciated having a funeral, but I had one for him anyway, during the COVID lockdown of those events. I was the only person to attend. I kissed his cheek and said, “Goodbye, for now; I will see you again soon my son.” Later we held a celebration of life in a Church; a joint celebration for him and his mother.
I don’t plan to follow Terry’s wishes to be randomly dumped in the woods somewhere. I’m looking for a place in the woods, a property to dedicate to the Lord; a retreat in the woods where God is served and his servants trained. My son, as servant of Jesus, will be there too.
Neither baptism nor his baptism certificate are a guarantee that Terry had and has eternal life. Terry knew that quite well. I know he knew it and that knowledge makes me confident that when my body stops and the rest of me continues life as an unceasing spiritual being with a glorious, unending destiny, I will be reunited with my son while I finally see my Savior face to face. Whatever that state of heaven is, there I will be until the sound of that last trumpet. The odd thing about the Bible and about life after death is that it doesn’t say much about life after death. Rather, it emphasizes the resurrection –– our life after life after death.
Terry died three and a half months before his 50th birthday. A month later Terry’s mother died at 70 years old. COVID took a tough toll that year. Two months later my octogenarian mother had gone from vibrant life to death. Each of their bodies died, but each of them continues life as an unceasing spiritual being with a glorious, unending destiny.
What does the Bible mean when it says that Jesus conquered death? And what did Jesus mean when he said that we will never see death?
As I consider the years left ahead of me, should God so privilege me, I am becoming concerned about the work that I have not completed. I ask myself and I ask God, “Do I have time to complete this work?” I have no delusions about myself being able to accomplish the work through my own skills, time, or resourcefulness. It requires many hands working with me to make it happen. And, most of all, it is entirely in God’s hands. Either he empowers and accomplishes it through us or it simply will not happen and the work of human effort that is yet to come would be already wasted. Despite knowing these things, I am burdened to complete call.
There is another death that has much affected me lately. The bodily death of a man, an author, theologian, and philosopher who died before I knew of him. That man to me is a paper mentor who has significantly impacted my life; Dallas Willard. [See the article: Paper Mentor.] Dallas died quickly after a fight with pancreatic cancer. He had much work yet to do; work he sensed God wanted him to do. In his final days he handed projects off to protégés for them to finish. He joked, but was serious to say, he thought he would be dead some time before he even realized it. Dallas knew himself to be an unceasing spiritual being with a glorious, unending destiny.
Dallas entered never-ending life with his body’s last words saying “thank you” to the Father in response, I suppose, to hearing “well done, my good and faithful servant.” Yet Dallas’s work was not complete. I am genuinely concerned about not completing the calling and leaving work not done. At the same time, the Spirit firmly calls me to silence, solitude, simplicity, and sabbath rest. I can’t accomplish the work, but he can, with many hands and through his empowerment, he can. Yet I know no time is left to experiment; I must not misstep and I must not neglect a day.
I celebrate my son Terry who I have every confidence is with my Savior Jesus. He rests. I celebrate his life, which did not cease when his body died. At the same time I reflect on the hope of finishing the work to which I am called. I have no guarantee. We have no guarantee. You have no guarantee. Terry was caught unawares and died in a matter of hours; he had no guarantee. We all have no guarantee that we will finish the call. …but we can have a guarantee to be an unceasing spiritual being with a glorious, unending destiny.
How will I live my life? How can I live my life, except as an apprentice of Jesus learning from him daily how to live my life as he would live my life if he were me.
Each of us is conceived with a nature alienated from God. We are born that way into this world. Humanity lives bodily with spiritual death as a reality that is both current and never-ending. All humans are embodied spirits, but spiritual dead, alienated from God and if we remain alienated when our body dies we remain alienated forever and experience every depth of death. It is only by our spirit being replaced with a new spirit (which Jesus called being born again) that we gain anew the abundant and eternal life of God to transform us into an unceasing spiritual being with a glorious, unending destiny. Those who are regenerated so in spirit, will never see death, but may for a while not even know the body has died. I hope you want that too.
It is a mystery of sorts, I suppose, in the way God ordained the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ to enable each of us to have a never ceasing life with him. Death is a terrible thing that looms over life, but it is resolved for us by Christ if we will follow him with all that we are.
My reflection………… If your spirit has been made anew, then: Measure your calling; Assess your apprenticeship with the Master; Assess your calling as an Ambassador of the Almighty and Emissary of the Kingdom of the Heavens; and savor the days that you have left to change the world through the power of Jesus name.
I am grateful to know my son Terry is and always will be an unceasing spiritual being with a glorious, unending destiny in the presence of Jesus and in fellowship with him. I am grateful to a good and kind and loving Father, my Lord, our God.
Tim Morris is the Director of Ecclesiolae Ministries Foundation, cofounded with Julie Morris. Ecclesiolae seeks to support Christians in their Spiritual Formation, Strengthening Ministry Marriages, and expanding the growth of MicroChurches within MegaChurches. Tim earned a BS in Business Management and completes an MA in Theology, from Wesley Biblical Seminary in the Spring of 2024.
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