I was driving my car the other day. I’ve recently started listening to the radio again, enjoying some of the classic rock I used to listen to. I found two rock stations and as I was going in-between the two in attempts to avoid radio ads, I was reminded of why I stopped listening to a lot of the music I used to enjoy. This article is not about our liberties in music. To each his/her own conscience.
What I heard was a song that glorifies hell. This lead me down various trains of thought, some personal in nature as I reflected over the changes the Lord is working. There was a time, not too long ago, when if I had met someone like me now, I would have had nothing to do with that person. I would have found them boring, high and mighty, and probably jumped to all kinds of unfair conclusions. Now I am that person. Life is weird like that.
Have you ever thought about society’s fixation with death?
I understand the death culture in this world. The death metal music, the movies, the way of dressing, and the reckless, death-defying behaviors. This was me. Why was I so into these things? Why are so many embracing death, even calling themselves a Christian? I cannot speak to everyone, but I can speak for myself.
There is something empowering about facing death with a certain boldness. We know we will all die, and those of us who live lives of suffering already feel a kind of death within, so why not embrace it? It is a way of feeling strong when in reality, we are very weak. We are very wounded. We are very afraid. We are dying. It is self-delusional, and the bad thing is, following the culture of death only furthers the darkness inside us. It does not make it go away.
Looking back, and when I see Christians with the same attitude towards death, it is almost mind boggling. Jesus is life and light. We are to follow him. How can we follow Jesus and embrace death when the gospel itself is resurrection from the dead? Many do though, even as I did. And as I wrote, there are reasons.
It can be so easy to judge people, especially Christians, who embrace death culture. A little understanding can go a long way towards reaching them and speaking to what is really going on behind the facade of their strong or apathetic outward appearances. Most of what we see from people, most of what they let us see or want to be seen is not what is really going on beneath the surface. Most people are in pain as I was.
Even so, there is nothing glorious, romantic, or empowering about death.
I worked for 10 years as a Certified Nurse Assistant, Certified Mediation Assistant, and Night Shift Manager (not all positions 10 years, but moved from one to the next in that time). During this time, I saw a lot of death.
I will never forget the fist person I saw die. This was a particularly painful death, and this person was afraid. I was glad to be with her so she would not die alone, but it was very hard to watch. I can still see her face and I will never forget her. From that day, I made it a point to never allow anyone under my care to die alone.
I learned how to watch for the subtle cues of death. The small changes in color, the pulling of blood from the extremities, the changes in breathing, the look in the eyes, and the smell. Death has a smell. I believe the Lord gave me a “gift” for this, because I became known for this among the people I worked with. I even had patient family members ask me to come to the room of dying loved ones because they thought if I entered the room, their loved one would pass and their suffering would end.
That was not how it worked, but there was something inside me that told me when someone was about to die, and I have seen many last breaths and even felt a pulse stop once. After witnessing so much death, I am not someone who believes that death is some mild thing. Death is severe.
I sympathize with the draw to death many have. It is wired in our flesh nature to go after things that destroy. If it were not so, then we would not sin because I believe that the essence of sin is destruction.
All of the things I write about now were part of my thought process the other day, and I’ve been meaning to write about it. I’ve been stuck because as I thought this over, another thought came to mind. Do not touch the dead thing. What do I make of that? I could make much of it, I suppose. For now, I will say this. As a Christian, we should not be so quick to embrace the dead things of this world. We do not bow to death. We bow only to Jesus Christ, and that is liberating. That is freedom from death. These dead things are not meant for us.