Over the years as a musician, I’ve written songs on many topics, but one subject continues to surface in my writing: the topic of death.
We joke that all humanity has death and taxes in common, but of course, you can find ways to evade paying taxes, so what we really have in common is that we are all born, and one day, we will all die. I’m not yet forty, but recently, after rewatching a video I had made for work, I noticed my wrinkles looked deeper. Maybe I was extra tired the day I filmed it, or perhaps I’m just aging (we can’t all look as young as Harrison Ford in the most recent Indiana Jones movie).
This moment reminded me of other times throughout my life when I’ve realized the time for one thing or another has passed. For instance, I distinctly remember watching the San Francisco Giants play the Houston Astros a few years ago. Tim Lincecum, one of the Giants’ starting pitchers, was on the field warming up. For some reason, I looked up his age and realized we were the same age.
Just like that, my childhood dream died.
I spent my childhood envisioning myself as a batter in a Giants uniform, complete with a Jeff Kent-style mustache. I dreamed I’d play professional baseball for the Giants. I wasn’t really all that great at baseball, but I wasn’t old enough to know or even care about that.
So, there I was, watching baseball and coming to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to make a Jim Morris-style comeback (see The Rookie starring Dennis Quaid), especially given that I never was major league material to begin with.
I recently injured my hand, inhibiting my ability to play guitar. Without going into too much detail, a tendon popped in my arm, and I couldn’t press down with my ring finger for several weeks. It complicated my job significantly as I had to figure out new ways to play many of the chords I use regularly, and it made me even question if I would ever be able to play guitar again.
I told my wife this injury was the closest I’ve felt to being a professional athlete. Not because I accomplished some amazing athletic feat but because, in a moment, I thought the career I had worked so hard at might be over forever. Here, again, was another small whisper of death’s inevitability. Another reminder that life isn’t forever, and one day, we all will face death.
And yet, despite such inevitability rearing its head in small and large ways, we know that death does not have the last word in Christ.
There’s a line I love in this prayer called Sleep from the book The Valley of Vision:
“As pain and suffering indicate temporal health, may I not shrink from a death that introduces me to the freshness of eternal youth. Even as we close our eyes to sleep, we do so in full assurance of one day awakening with you.”
These words echo what Saint Paul says in Romans 8:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We will not always live our earthly dreams; we will face death, but when it comes, we can rest in the assurance that we will awake to new life with Christ, who has made us more than conquerors. You’re on your own for the taxes.