I cringe every time I hear a journalist talk about the death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter…and seven others. What about the seven others? By putting it this way, there is attached such vague insignificance and unimportance to the seven others.
Like many of you, I remember where I was on Nov. 22, 1963 because of who died that day. I was in grade seven. Our school principal called an assembly in the gym and choking up, she announced the death of President Kennedy. I remember that later that same day on the evening news an emotional Walter Cronkite took off his glasses, in his familiar Walter way, at the conclusion of the broadcast stating, “That’s the way it is, Nov 22, 1963.”
I also remember a strange stillness, an eerie quiet on Queen Street in Toronto for my morning stroll Sept. 11, 2001. I couldn’t fathom what was going on. I noticed far less traffic and less folks milling around that morning so I stepped through an open store doorway to find everyone there looking up at the TV screen in stunned, incredulous silence. I don’t know their names but I do know thousands lost their lives that day, each and every one precious to someone at some time in their life. The horror and sadness for them felt crushing.
September 8th, 2022 will be forever etched in history as the day Queen Elizabeth 11 died, the epitome of loyalty and service, duty and dignity, qualities which often seem to be rather in short supply these days. These are noted as characteristics that made her long reign so significant. Her devotion to tradition and commitment leave many heartbroken in the UK and around the world. Some called her the Queen of the World.
Apparently Billy Graham met with Queen Elizabeth at least a dozen times beginning in 1955. He described her as a woman of “rare modesty and character.” They became friends through “their shared love for Jesus”, says Franklin Graham. Even now the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is on the ground in England offering support for those grieving her loss. More than 20 chaplains will be ministering at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Holyrood house.
But approximately 180,000 people in the world died Sept. 8th. I read a blog written by a woman who lost her mom Sept 8th this past week too. She states that her loss of her mother is no less important than the loss of the Queen. How true that is. …Death comes for everyone, great or not.
The death of senior prominent people remind us that we are all mortal. We really don’t care for this rude awakening. The life of someone who lives 96 years in the public eye somehow conveys a false sense of immortality. When the end finally does come we simply can’t believe it did.
But you know, the day of our death is no surprise to God.
“…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16
Perhaps somewhere deep in the folds of God’s robe there is a pocket. In this pocket is the book where the day of our birth and the day of our death is recorded. And perhaps as he withdrew this book, he glanced at the page entitled September 8, 2022, and turned beaming to the waiting angelic throng and said, “Today let’s rejoice in welcoming Robert, Lu, Wong, Sally, Elizabeth, Thomas, Tatiana,…..” There was a glorious homecoming for all of those he knew would come to him that day, the famous and the not so famous, but each one equally dear to him nonetheless.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15
The day of our death will be a great and wonderful day, too. Do you need to be reminded of this today? Is grief attempting to swallow you? Yes, the final day of any life is profoundly sad for those who remain but for Jesus-Followers it is also a day of great elation! We believe it is a day of healing, no more tears or sorrow, no sadness or pain… forever with Jesus!
“…the day of death (is) better than the day of birth…for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.” Ecclesiastes 7
I could have selected any number of photos to post of the queen, perhaps even with Billy Graham, but you can easily look them up for yourself. Our last photo of her smiling radiantly on Tuesday will be so very treasured. I think today I would rather note ALL of those who passed this week, those whose image is forever etched in the minds of those who loved them here on earth and whose hearts God alone sees and knows as he welcomes each and every one.