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Death loses, Jesus wins

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By Nancy Kennedy

On Oct. 26, a woman named Terri married the man of her dreams, and on Nov. 12, her new husband, Mike, went in for surgery for a lump on his jaw and had 9/10 of his tongue removed.
Mike is dying from oral cancer, slowly and painfully.
I’ve been following their saga on Facebook. It is both incredibly sad and filled with sweetness and an ultimate happily-ever-after ending.
Here are some of Terri’s most recent Facebook posts:
n I cried on his shoulder tonight as I rubbed the kink out of his back. We rocked each other and cried. So many I love you’s said. #notenoughtime
n We walk through another day. We don’t run. We walk - slowly - but surely through another day. There are ups and downs. I hold onto the up times, like when I took Mike with me to get a bowl of soup. We listened to a healing CD in the car and held hands. Not many words, just love passing through our fingers. I’m OK with the days going slowly — sometimes too slowly. But each day is a day with my beloved. Grateful for another day.
n This morning my honey told me he didn’t think he would be here tomorrow. He’s been mostly sleeping. About 15 minutes ago he got up and started piddling around. When he came back to sit I asked what he was doing. He said, “I’m doing some laundry.” Does that strike anyone else as funny? Actually, typing this almost made me sob. I had to hold in the tears.
n So, this is what it feels like “walking through the valley of the shadow of death.” I don’t recommend walking it alone. So very glad to have my Jesus and my family and my Facebook friends — thank you! That “shadow” --- painful and heavy. But on the other side where there are no shadows and an incredible infusion of love, well... I guess that thought is a good one to hold on to — with white knuckles.
The two of them have spent their entire married life, only five months so far, making “final arrangements.”
Even so, Mike and Terri are both Christians and believe that death isn’t final, but rather a transition to something greater.
That’s what the Resurrection is all about. That’s why we celebrate Easter. The Resurrection removes the dreadful fear of death.
One of my favorite stories in the gospels is the one about Lazarus, a friend of Jesus’. Lazarus was sick and his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus to come quickly.
However, he died before Jesus got there. Martha ran to greet Jesus and said, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died!”
Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
She said, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Then Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Martha says, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:21-27)
And then Jesus went to Lazarus’ tomb, told him to come out — and the dead man did.
Just like that. A dead man got up and walked.
Some time later, Jesus also lay in a tomb after dying a brutal death. Three days later, the dead rabbi who was slain for the sins of his people, rose to resurrected life. He offers that same life to anyone who believes in him.
Last week, Terri wrote:
For the last couple of days a portion of a verse has been running through my head. “I go to prepare a place for you.” This gives me tremendous comfort to know that if Mike isn’t completely healed on this earth, there is a place that has been lovingly prepared for him.
The Bible says that “for the joy that was set before him, Christ endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2)
That joy is having us together with him, forever. No more sorrow, no more suffering.
Because of the Resurrection, death has lost its sting and the grave its victory.
Jesus was dead, but now he lives. And because he lives, one day so will we.
That’s why we celebrate Easter. He is risen, and he has prepared a place for us.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.