Mysterious Benediction

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:16)

benediction, (Latin, bene-well+dicere, to speak) is a short invocation for divine help, blessing and guidance. Usually at the end of worship.

by Virginia Hughes

Like careless children on Christmas morning we broke everything in the Garden of Eden. When it all came tumbling down, Jesus spread his vast arms, outstretched in sacrifice, and forgave us.

When Christ died, he gave more gifts to us than he had ever given before. Which is saying a lot for the Alpha and Omega, co-author of the whole world and everything in it—including the creation of ourselves and the very measures of time. For our sake; not his.

Traces of his story are written everywhere in the universe. Unfathomable, even as we witness the seasons, stars, oceans' depths, highest mountains, lilies of the valley and power of the winds. Don't forget the invisible matter that holds everything together: the "God particle," or "Higgs Boson." 

We read about the trumpet blast of his second coming. Imagine rising to meet him in the air. His birth, death and resurrection are hope promised and eternity realized. 

Christ couldn't be contained as he walked on water along the edges of the earth telling wind and waves to behave and be still. Tipping the scales at every turn, he agreed to lay down his life and rise again. Among those he brought back to life were children, moms, dads and friends.

We don't know what it is like to summon a friend with defibrillating words. Christ does that every time one of us accepts his gift. He is constantly bringing new life to all who believe. Recall the miraculous visual of Lazarus rolling out of his death wrappings after a few days in a sepulcher. 

I once read about a "Lady Lazarus," not pleased to be beckoned back from death. A gifted word wizard with mental burdens and debilitating depression, she finally did herself in, overcome with sadness. She left behind a poem that provokes its readers. Like Sylvia Plath, I now am a "Lady Lazarus." 

Unlike Sylvia, I didn't have a death wish, and still do not. Death wasn't on my mind the day I passed. I left quickly sitting quietly at dinner. Here one moment and gone the next, on October 25, 2015.

The immediacy of passing so quickly without a moment of pain or good-bye wave, is not an event one expects. Providentially, the paramedics arrived immediately and restarted my heart. Learning about it later, the panic in the voices and eyes around the hospital bed didn't alarm me. Paramedics, nurses and cardiologists kept recounting how I had died. 

I lost count of how many times I was told of my own death. It was a big deal to them, and I had missed the whole thing. My husband thought I had really gone, and what if it happened again with no warning? Worried family members drove across a few states to see. Everyone was wary, except for me.

I alone found news of my dying oddly comforting because it didn't hurt at all. Maybe it was shock, a built-in grace. Maybe it was grace, a built-in shock. I felt fine immediately. I was awake and what was all the fuss?

When my heart stopped, I didn't go anywhere, what a dummy. No bright lights or angel greetings. Should I be worried? Nah. I was a little disappointed actually. No drama to report on my end. I didn't even walk into the "wood between the worlds," written about in a C.S. Lewis book. They restarted me like a machine. I had been revived. Reset button pushed.

Now there is a battery implanted near my heart to give it a shock if it stops again. I am a question needing an electrical answer. Test after test after test. A mystery to an electrophysiologist who knows everything about the heart except why mine stopped beating.

I only know how ordinary I am and further humbled to be alive. Obviously my work here isn't complete. In a blink I could have passed into eternal work and worship. 

Having resumed an earthly routine, awareness is keen that the best life for a believer is what we've always been taught: Follow Jesus. His life is our prayer. He will carry us through anything including the disruption of dying for a few minutes during dinner. 

He wills where we arise. We may carry on with confidence here knowing he manages our details—even those surrounding a mysterious benediction.