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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


 

Daily Boost

May 23, 2014 - Grin of the Living Dead

By Scott Harrup

I admit it. I'm one who stares closely into a casket when attending a funeral — always looking for that hint of a breath. When I stare hard enough I can just about convince myself I see the tiniest movement, the ghost of a rise and fall in the chest. Doesn't matter if I know the deceased has been embalmed and there's not the remotest chance of a coma being mistaken for death. I still look.

In my library I have a copy of Frozen in Time by Owen Beattie and John Geiger. Anthropologist Beattie's team exhumed the bodies of three sailors from the ill-fated 1845 Franklin expedition to the Arctic. Franklin's ships, "Terror" and "Erebus," vanished. But the three crewmen had been buried on a remote rocky island early in the voyage.

Examining the bodies, Beattie's group uncovered clues to the fate of the rest of the crew. Modern analysis points to malnutrition and lead poisoning as the causes of death. Deserted, the ships would have been crushed by shifting ice.

But those three recovered bodies — they have a life of their own in an eerie sort of way. The frigid arctic conditions basically freeze-dried the corpses. The eyes of one John Torrington, only 20 years old at his death, are open in published photographs. His lips pull back in an almost-grin.

"Every time we find the well-preserved body of someone who died long ago — an Egyptian mummy, a freeze-dried Incan sacrifice, a leathery Scandinavian bog-person, the famous iceman of the European Alps," writes best-selling author Margaret Atwood in the introduction to Frozen in Time, "there's a similar fascination. Here is someone who has defied the general ashes-to-ashes, dust-to-dust rule, and who has remained recognizable as an individual human being long after most have turned to bone and earth.

"In the Middle Ages, unnatural results argued unnatural causes, and such a body would either have been revered as saintly or staked through the heart. In our age, try for rationality as we may, something of the horror classic lingers: the mummy walks, the vampire awakes. It's so difficult to believe that one who appears to be so nearly alive is not conscious of us."

A melding of death and life touches each of us at the core of our spiritual journey. Read the Book of Romans and you'll find the apostle Paul reflecting on his "dead" identity as a sinner separated from God, and the new life Christ brought him at salvation. Because Paul still inhabited his earthly body when he wrote Romans, he struggled with personal tendencies from his sinful past.

The happy ending to Paul's somewhat macabre narrative comes in Romans 7:24-8:2.

"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death" (NIV).

All followers of Christ struggle with some of the habits and desires from our "dead" past. But all of us can count on a day when we will forever bid farewell to death and embrace eternal life in God's presence.

— Scott Harrup is managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Out There (sharrup.agblogger.org).

 

 

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