Well, it's 03:32 and I am yet again unable to sleep due to horrific back pain. I shall go and see how the doctor is doing soon. However, my problems have been put into perspective with the very sad news of hearing that a good friend passed away on Thursday morning.
I suppose I am using this blog as a bit of an outlet regarding the whole situation, so please forgive the almost inevitable lack of cohesive writing that will follow.
Rosaleen was a wonderful and much loved member of the church I attend, and although I have not had chance to gauge the reaction of the church to her passing, I assume it was fairly similar across the board to my wife's: speechlessness and tears. Having been on holiday, we only found out yesterday when we returned; and the sudden nature of it all seems a little overwhelming.
I wish to respect her dignity (as well as her husband's) by not going into any real details of what happened. The point of this blog is to reflect theologically on the situations that life (or should I say God?) throws my way. So, in that light, let me briefly mention what I have been thinking.
During our holiday in Cornwall (specifically, Bude - lovely place) me and my wife wrote a song together for the first time. (I shall be leading worship at a church's conference in a few weeks and I usually try to write a couple of songs for that.) Anyway, the theme of the week, and that of the song, is the Power of the Resurrection. So, having brushed up on 1 Corinthians 15 we set to work on writing the song. The main idea was that since Christ has risen from the dead already, and therefore death has been defeated, we really have no fear in death. All in all we were quite happy with it.
So - we really have no fear in death. So why are we generally so afraid of it? I am sure that I have met few people who are genuinely not fearful of death. Sometimes I try to qualify and relativise my fear of death by stating that it is not death itself that I fear, but what will happen to those I will leave behind - as if God is perfectly capable of dealing with my passing away, but not necessarily capable of looking after those still alive (this kind of links with my thoughts that it is easier to die for Jesus than to live for Him - but that's for another time perhaps).
Rosaleen spent many years living a radical life for Jesus. She was such a great person to know, and just as great to have on board with anything the church was doing: usually the first to be bold enough to disagree with a decision and throw the proverbial, but always necessary, spanner in the works! Yet always so warm and gentle to provide the greatest of encouragement. She will be sorely missed.
The story doesn't end there though, and it really doesn't. Rosaleen has finally met her Lord. The lifetime goal of every Christian, and she is now living in it. The theology of the afterlife is a fun, but complicated study - which I shall certainly not go into here - however, whether Rosaleen is with Christ right now or not (my understanding is that she is), she will certainly be raised on the day Jesus returns, she will be made like Him, and inherit her place in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Tom Wright's book Surprised by Hope speaks of the afterlife happening in stages (kind of) and death is merely a level of this. Of course, my theology here could be wrong - like I said, the afterlife is a strange but wonderful study - but what I am absolutely certain about is that Rosaleen is in the hands of the God who is powerful beyond limit, and loving beyond comprehension; and so is her husband; and so are we.
It was an honour and a privilege to have shared a place in space and time with such a great person.