I have been thinking a lot this week about the end of life. My father is finishing his race right now. Sometime in the days to come he will breathe his last and pass from this life into the next. Alzheimers disease wreaked havoc on his flesh, and it sucks. But he has run his course well.
Finishing the Race
I am drawn to the words of the Apostle Paul to his now not-so-young protege Timothy at the end of his second letter:
The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6–8)
Finishing the Flesh
John Rodarmel could say the same. He has fought valiantly. I have watched him remain faithful to his wife, his family, his God and even his beloved pup Simba. Here is a rare individual who became sweeter and more Christ-like through the course of dementia. Because his spirit was transformed and refined during his life in the body, as his flesh weakened, his spirit shone through more beautifully. Like a broken clay pot, his flesh wasn’t strong enough to hide his spirit anymore.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
Now as he prepares to lay down his flesh altogether, his spirit will go to rest with the one who holds him. He will be free from the limitations and sufferings of the flesh and will wait in restful peace for the dawning of the new day. The new testament calls death “sleeping”. At the break of that day, “the dead in Christ will rise first” and the “perishable will be raised imperishable”.
I look forward to that day!