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Thinking about forever

by davesandel on March 18th, 2021

Thursday, March 18, 2021                  (today’s lectionary)

Thinking about forever

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall have eternal life.

Christie Clinic, Champaign, 7:30 am. I watch the weather through a fourth floor porthole. Dense fog rolls around and surrounds us. Across the street two windows in a nearby hotel stare back at me, darkly.  I hear nurses talking about the awful icy weather yesterday. And all of us are counting the blessings of today.

In an hour I’ll have a CT Scan to check an embolism in my leg. The embolism is a now-permanent part of me that has grown just a little. What else is happening in there? When I was fifty, I confidently predicted that my body parts would wear out, of course, like every part of every thing. It’s easier to say that when you’re fifty, and the process has not yet accelerated.

For so long I took my immortality for granted. I watch Jack and Aly, Miles and Jasper take their own immortality for granted. I watch them, but no more do I feel immortal in my own self.

How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?

A couple of nights ago I “put Mom to bed,” and before she removed her hearing aids she prayed the prayer she always prays.

I thank you, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear son, that you have graciously kept me this day, and I pray that you would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

This is Luther’s prayer as well, and he advises us, “Then go to sleep at once and in good cheer.”

Mom prays this every night. She has always prayed these words when I’m with her, but that night it went … “I commend myself, my body and soul, O Lord, especially my body! …” She was tired, and tired of being tired.

You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them. And even the Scriptures testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.

Neither Mom nor I are in the habit of giving up. For the most part, we don’t get to choose when we take our last breath, when we “give up the ghost.” I continue to be amazed at the audacity of my lungs and heart to keep pumping without any particular permission on my part. Their consistency has gone on forever, as far as I’m concerned.

But now I see that “forever” isn’t a word about the future, at least not my body’s future. Everything has its season, and there is a time to live, and a time to die. Solomon died. So will Mom. So will I.

Do not forget the God who saved you, who did great deeds in Egypt, wondrous deeds in the land of Ham, terrible things at the Red Sea.

The “forever” part of Mom’s prayer is “I commend my soul …” For that future we are regularly assured in the Bible, if not in personal experience. For me this assurance lets me rest quietly in my chair at Christie Clinic, waiting to see what will happen next, taking one deep breath at a time.

(Exodus 32, Psalm 106, John 3, John 5)

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One Comment
  1. Shannon Reeves permalink

    Dave, I’ll look forward to seeing you when you return to austin! May your spirit, soul and body rest well!

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