Wednesday, September 22, 2010

REF: The Christian and Death (Story about Ryan)

"Stairway to Paradise" by Thomas Kinkade (1998)

My best friend
, Ryan, came literally within centimeters of his death in 1997 (the bleeding in the brain was stopped just in time). From the time he was rushed to the hospital, his parents desperately called everyone they knew and asked for their prayers. To this day, I believe this is what saved his life.

After he "came to" following the surgery, his mother, who although relieved was still an emotional wreck from the whole ordeal, was at his bedside.

Ryan is the most laid-back guy I know. He takes everything in stride, and everything is like water off a duck's back. He is the perfect best friend for me, because I tend to be the opposite - high-strung with tendency to get fixated on "little things". I remember one day his wallet was stolen at work. He came home, mentioned it matter-of-factly, then proceeded to get on the phone to cancel his credit cards as though he was making a simple dinner reservation. I was far more anxious than he was about his missing wallet! His favourite saying is "whatever happens, happens".

Anyway, at his bedside,
his mother was surprised at how calm and relaxed he was about the whole ordeal. He did not seem at all shocked by how close he came to dying, or that grateful for being alive (any more than his general love and appreciation for life that is a constant with Ryan). She thought he should be more relieved, and should have been more afraid of dying.

This is what
he said in response to her: "Christians are a bunch of hypocrites. We talk about how our real treasure is in heaven, how it is our true destiny, and how we are living for the next life, but when we find out we might be dying, we get just as upset and afraid as people who don't believe in God". Once again, Ryan, as he often does, hit the nail on the head.

I hear from time to time about
some Christians making "provisions" for various apocalyptic scenarios (the smart card with the "666 microchip", or nuclear holocausts, etc.) by building shelters, etc. The fact is, the purpose of this world is to point us toward, lead us to, and eventually give way to heaven. When we make such provisions, it makes me think our motivation is to avoid the eschaton, and this is not Christian.

If the world gets hit with a nuclear bomb that blows up most of the world except Christians living in shelters, I would assume that this is because the world was supposed to end.

(And after all, these people who are building shelters are the ones who are talking about how "the end will take place in our lifetime". So why build the shelters then? Seems they are convinced the end is soon but they don't really want to accept or believe that - which seems odd if they think heaven is "where it's at").

Ryan makes a good point, and asks a good question: "
Why do we want to avoid death so badly?" Some might respond, "Oh, but the Lord needs me for such and such". First of all, that isn't the primary reason most do not want to die - their reasons aren't so "altrustic" that they are concerned about the Lord's needs and desires; rather, their reasons are that they love life and they are attached to this world and the things of this world. But secondly, and I am sorry to break it to anyone who maybe do not realize this, but God doesn't need us! None of us. We are all relative needs. If God needs such and such to be done, He can find someone else to do it, and if He "calls you home" (the home we all seem so eager to avoid coming home to), chances are He has someone else in mind for the task. We give ourselves far too much credit. It comes from our fallen human pride, I suppose.

St. Francis de Sales in his "Introduction to the Devout Life" has meditations on "the end for which we were created". I believe most of us "good Christians" need to spend more time in prayer on this particular meditation. A Christian who values his life too much is a Christian in name only and will not be very holy or apostolically fruitful.

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of the story of Blessed Pius IX in his final days. When those around him wanted to find ways to prolong his life, and urge prayers for his health, he smiled and replied "Why do you want to stop me from going to heaven?"