Friday, October 17, 2014

Does life really end?

In many ways, human life is like a railroad journey. Have you noticed how some seats on the train of life face forward, and some face backward? In our youth we always faced forward, leaning out the window to see as far ahead as possible. The station names were alluring. "Next stop, marriage. Next stop, parenthood."

But when the train crested the hill called middle age, our fascination with the future began to fade. Now stations suggested the end of the line was near. "Next stop, social security. Change here for assisted living." This was when many of us moved to seats facing backward. The rush of events was finally behind us. Look! We can see how the kids turned out, and how many of our hopes came true. But when we sit facing backward, misfortune seem to happen with no advance warning. We have to honestly admit, "I just never saw it coming."

Facing forward or backward changes our viewpoint, but not our destination. The last stop is the same, and we have a one-way ticket. Life conforms to a fixed material order, like a railroad schedule, as long as we measure it by the clock and calendar. But is death really our final stop?

In their hearts, many believe life transcends death. They've noticed a slender emergency cord above the windows on the train of life. It's marked "faith" but it seems hard to reach as the train picks up speed on the downhill slope. Let's grab this emergency cord and hold on to it for dear life, until we begin to feel dear Life holding on to us -- and the train rolls to a gentle stop. What shall we do now? We've viewed life through the window of hours and minutes for so many years! What will happen if we turn away from this limited view, and step off the train into the deathless life that Jesus found on Easter morning? The joy that shone in his disciples' faces will shine in ours, and the vision of poet Thomas Moore will be fulfilled.

When from the lips of Truth one mighty breath
Shall, like a whirlwind, scatter in its breeze
The whole dark pile of human mockeries;
Then shall the reign of Mind commence on earth,
And starting fresh, as from a second birth,
Man, in the sunshine of the world's new spring,
Shall walk transparent, like some holy thing.

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