Monday, March 3, 2014

That They May Have Life ...

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
John 10:10

We drove to the animal hospital and I held death in my hands . . . 

A dying grass-blade of God's creation, her white breast quivering in the cavern of her ebbing life. 

A mourning dove, the representation of His peace, in the midst of the chaotic grip of pain and death. 

Her life sinking, he took the box and walked inside. 

And walked out later alone. 

And we had driven silently there; death is not a glib event, and I think of Legolas as he bowed his head and uttered that whispered benediction. 

A benediction of peace amidst the angry cacophony of death. 

I think of this desperate world, and all creation in bondage, and the inside of my soul weeps.

The dove, mourning, dying, attests to the bondage of creation--peace, life, in the grip of death. 

I think of how we choose death--and beautiful, sweet things are so casually mocked, manhandled, twisted.  

What is it about humanity that grips the ugly, that chooses the sarcastic and degrading and the despicable and gnaws on them like a filthy, greasy bone? 

What is it about humanity that chooses death?

That tosses aside the weak, that rejects what is physically or mentally unpalatable--the elderly, the retarded, the unwanted child? 

What is it that draws us to degrading humor and so-called "entertainment"? To 22-words-sardonism and conscience-numbing stupidity, to mindless cartoons that depict sweet, innocent animals and birds (part of God's beautiful creation) as "angry," sarcastic specimens that resemble the worst of what humanity is capable of, what I am capable of, without the grace of Christ? 

Death, clinging to us, clinging to our children, wrapping itself around our hearts through the media that we allow into our homes and lives for the sake of entertainment and a hollow laugh. 

We drain the cup dry like a cheap wine--and our debauchery chains us. 

I read about a man who enjoys photographing hawks in the city of Providence killing pigeons. 

And his "art" is  celebrated. 

Have you ever watched a hawk kill a pigeon? 

It's an ugly, slow process, the hawk's talons kneading the pigeon's body, while he struggles, still alive beneath the death-grip. 

Death is not a celebration--something to be delighted in, gaped at, fascinated by.

Death is what Christ came to abolish, why the nail-thorns were pressed into His brow--why He bled and ached and suffered. 

And hawks need to eat, but does someone need to take a picture of it?--just so that we can gape and gawk at a poor pigeon's agony? 

Gape at death. 

But sin, worketh death . . . 

Death of the conscience, death of the spirit, death of the soul. 

And death makes us callused and raw, manacles our souls--

Manacled my father's soul when he spit us out, rejected us, handed my Mom papers for a divorce. 

Did he care that he crushed us? That he left her with nothing--nothing but the mangled shards of a covenant that she faithfully held on to? 

Did he care?

Death had chained him, and he casually joked with his friends about "missing their lunch" when the court hearing dragged on too long. 

Death; death of the conscience, death of the soul. 

But Christ . . . 

  Came to give life, to free our souls from death--to crush the serpents's head and to silence the hawk's shrill death-cry forever. 

Came to give us life, life more abundant. 

So we choose life. 

Choose it for our homes, for our children, through what we allow into our lives and our hearts--

Things that make for beauty and peace and health of the soul. 

Clean laughter, the fellowship of the brethren, the joy-bliss of pure worship, the ache for our heavenly home, our hands free from clutching this wretched sinful world as our home--

Longing for the new heavens, the new earth--where the lion will lie down next to the lamb and the child put his hand in the viper's nest--unbitten. 

Where glory dwells,

And death is swallowed up in victory. 

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