PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE
I can’t watch the “Passion of the Christ” because it happened. It’s truth. Every spit on Jesus’ face actually happened. Every fist on his stomach actually pounded his flesh. Every strap of the whip on his back was real. The thorns on His head were real. All of it. Real. I just cannot watch those horrid parts of the “Passion of the Christ.” The part I liked best was Resurrection morning when Jesus awakes in the tomb. All of the blood is gone. He is dressed in a clean white robe. A white glow fills the tomb. That’s the part I love best. The pain is over.
I understand why he had to die. I get it. I just don’t like it.
There’s something else I don’t get, and I don’t like. My husband died from leukemia. I sat by his side during endless hours of infusions. The white blood cells ate the good red cells, and his color turned to pale every two weeks. Unnatural pale. Painful-to-look-at pale. Infusions of blood brought color back. I was thankful for the blood. But I didn’t want to watch.
Chemo does something unnatural to a strong man. He loses muscle. His skin wrinkles. He can’t eat. I hated that part. I didn’t want to watch. Each drop of chemo was like a whip of the cord on the back of Christ. Each time, I felt the sting of the accusers’ nails in His flesh, the beating of their fist, the terrible spit on the face of Jesus.
He’s dying. Lord; please don’t make me watch.
The best part of his dying was knowing he would awaken, whole and well, the shackles of leukemia conquered by Christ’s victory over death. That’s the part I loved best. The pain is over.
I have wondered how to explain the death of a mama or daddy to a small child. Writing this helps me a little. I would say, “When Mama was so sick, we were sad that she could not get better. We didn’t want to watch as she became sicker and sicker. We realized there was only one way for her to get well. God has a place for those who are too sick to get well. It’s called heaven. There, mommy got well. She could not get well here, but she can get well there.”
That’s the part we love best. Mommy is well. The pain is over.
On the other side of death, there is beauty. Flowers, colors, sweet aromas such as we have never seen here on earth. And family and close friends and best of all, Jesus. It is a reunion that we cannot even begin to imagine. Jesus, our Best Friend, our Comforter, who died at the young age of 33 in obedience to His Father’s will.
Death, you have no sting in my life. Grave, you have no victory. I look with eyes of faith to where my loved one is now. I can’t wait to join him.
And, I find immeasurable peace. There is only one way to get to heaven. We have to die.
I think I get it.
The Rev. B.J. Funk is associate pastor of Central UMC in Fitzgerald. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.