I hate death. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: Death is the enemy.
Sure, we all think that it’s “natural” because it happens to 100% of us. Animals, plants, humans -death is coming for us all. But I believe it’s the enemy. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be.
Death breeds fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of grief. Fear of pain. All our fear is essentially just a fear of death. Of no longer being “us.” Death is coming for us.
Just a few days ago, an acquaintance of mine died. He was the pastor/leader of the Young Adults group at the International Evangelical Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He was the owner of a coffee shop here with plans to open other branches, including one in LA. He led a non-profit focused on entrepreneurship and growing leaders. He once said “At the end of our days, let’s at least say we tried to make a difference.” He did.
His name was Caleb.
I didn’t know him well. I heard him preach one time – it was Biblical and full of grace. I spoke with him on the phone for about 30 minutes. His intelligence, enthusiasm, and love of Jesus was contagious. I’m not qualified to write about him, as we were just acquaintances, but even in the short time I interacted with him, his life affected me. When I heard he passed, I cried.
I cried because he was a great example. He was getting things done. He was glorifying God. He was making a difference. He practiced what he preached.
Caleb cared about people. He invested in them. He cared for them. He loved Jesus. He worshiped Him. He preached Christ and Him crucified. His words and actions affected those around him in a deep and profound way.
Caleb was a great man.
Until death. Traffic accidents, sub-par medical care, viruses – so many places we can try to place the blame because we think “this shouldn’t have happened.” And it shouldn’t have. But the means of death are not the real reason we grieve. Because if he died in some other way or at some other time – even 80 years from now – it’s still not right.
Caleb should not have died. Full stop.
None of us should.
This morning at church, the worship leader said “Hallelujah” a number of times. And I was reminded that in some Christian traditions we don’t say that word during Lent. Lent is 40 days (or 46 if you count the Sunday feasts) of waiting for Easter. Just like Advent for Christmas, when we wait for God to come down to us, Lent is for Easter. We wait for God to come back up from death. Spoiler alert: He does.
I will not say “Hallelujah” that Caleb is gone. The earth is worse without him here. He was standing against the gates of hell, and as Jesus told us, they WILL NOT PREVAIL.
I misspoke earlier. It’s not “His name was Caleb.” It is Caleb. Present tense. Why do I say that?
Because Easter is coming. Jesus is rising. And, while death may come for us, He is coming for death.
And then we will say “Hallelujah.”
He is risen, and we will rise too.
Caleb, we will see you soon.
Come, Lord Jesus.