Tears leaked down my face before I was even awake. “He is gone” clanged jarringly in my mind. I reached back for my wife’s hand and she was awake. We talked softly and took turns weeping.
My father in law – Gary Bauer – was taken from this life early this morning. And my heart is filled with a cacophony of emotions – Anger, Sorrow, Loss and… hope. The first three come spontaneously and in waves – The last when I focus on the promises of God.
I am grateful for Gary’s life. It had an impact on many people. God used his regrets and sorrows to form him into a person who could give grace and compassion to anyone – even the undeserving – like me.
It is hard – actually impossible for me to understand. But that is ok. Because I know my Father is working His purposes and he is not only my Father but he is Gary’s. And so what is a tragic day for all of us who will miss him and grieve over this day for the rest of our lives – for him it was a day of great joy. Finally free of the sorrows and sins of this life – Gloriously transformed and in the loving presence of God. In his last days Gary sang for us “Stayin’ Alive” and by the grace of God, death could not win and he is not just “stayin alive” he is finally fully and forever alive.
Jesus conquered the grave not only for himself but for all who lay down their sins and their own goodness and receive the great gift of the blood of Jesus Christ – given for us. Though His blood we have the forgiveness of sins and the joy of knowing our creator. Gary had this hope because of grace. And I have this hope for him and for me because of the cross of Christ which proved the unbounded love of God. Gary had a great concern for all those around him – that they also would have this hope. Jesus says all who come to me I will never cast out.
So this is a sorrowful goodbye – one I did not expect and one that I wish I would not have to say. But it is not a sorrow without hope because – “This I call to mind and therefore have hope – the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases – His mercy endures FOREVER!”
I have long appreciated Star Trek and Captain Kirk. As a result, over the years, I have watched or read numerous interviews with William Shatner including this recent one. I have noticed that he frequently brings up the topics of death, the afterlife and God. And I have often thought I would love to talk to him and discuss how he can find the answers he seems to be seeking, in Jesus. In lieu of that I sent him 24 tweets in the hopes that God would see fit to show himself to Bill, through his Word, even in a medium as imperfect as twitter. Here are those tweets.
Bill, I write this with great affection and longing for you
– You have asked these questions in many places over the years I have followed
you “What have I done?” “Why am I here?” “What’s going
to happen?” “Is this the end?” – What does life mean? What is death?
And as David accused Kirk – “You’ve never faced death before” perhaps you feel somewhat like Kirk – You know death is inevitable – at 88 you feel it – yet in many ways have cheated death. You have tasted all this world has to offer but you also taste its inability to satisfy you.
CS Lewis wrote “If
we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the
most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” As
Spock aptly noted “There are always possibilities” Perhaps the answer
to your questions lie in a possibility….
I’m sure over the years
someone has presented Jesus and Christianity to you. For whatever reason –
Jesus has not captured your attention – maybe the messenger was flawed – maybe
you find His story implausible – Maybe you hate the judgement of religion – I
don’t know… but…
Here are some things I have found to be true and give me hope facing my own mortality – more than hope – joy – happiness even in my sorrows. Every good story must have a villain – Kirk must have his Klingons. And in the story of the human race – we are the villains.
Now I know this may sound like religious stone casting – but I’m including myself – I am broken – not good – not righteous – and the Bible indicts all of humanity as sinners Romans 3:10 – “There is NONE righteous…. no not one” Romans 3:23 “The wages of sin is death, BUT…
Let me leave that
“but” hanging for a minute, because until we realize our diagnosis is
bad and justifiably so the “but” is just sentimental meaningless
drivel of religious people. Jesus said “I did not come to those who have
no need of a physician but to the sick” not because
some are sick and some
are not – but because all of us are sick but not all of us recognize it. Most
of us believe that if there is a God he will accept us because we are “not
too bad.” We compare ourselves with others based on our intentions and
decide “I’m ok.”
And maybe compared to other sinners we are mildly better. But our maker is not a fellow sinner – he is a holy, perfect, radiant in splendor, dwelling-in unapproachable-light being – If we were to come into His presence in our self-evaluated, not-too-badness – we would be undone
If you were to compare
not to others or by your good intentions, but instead to a perfect being-pure
in every way- you would cry out like the Prophet Isaiah – “Woe is me! For
I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips …for my eyes have seen the King,
the LORD of hosts!”
Scripture has this
diagnosis “It is appointed unto men once to die and after this the
judgment.” If that judgment is by our creator and he is in fact perfect
and his requirement of us is perfection-because no one imperfect can stand
before him…What will his judgement be of you?
I don’t ask you this as
someone better than you – save for one thing I would stand condemned, with you
and all of humanity. I ask because as I stated before – unless we understand
our plight, our condition – we will not understand the meaning or need of the
The sacrifice of Spock
to save the Enterprise is silly, unnecessary-a waste, even embarrassing-if the
context of what is at stake not understood. If it truly is life and death-and
the stakes could not be higher then the sacrifice is understood for what it
Your soul is of great
value. Jesus asks “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world
and yet loses his own soul?” … You have been a man who has, more than
most, tasted what this world has to offer and, I suspect, found that it is not
enough to satisfy you…
Your soul need not be
lost. Let’s come back to the “BUT” “But the gift of God is
eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”There is salvation for your
soul and it is found in one person-Jesus. He says “I am the way the truth
and the life no one comes to the Father BUT by me
Jesus is not one path
of many – He is the Only path to the Father and to eternal life. That is his
claim. So here is what us Christians call the “Gospel” – Gospel just
means “Good News” It is a proclamation of what God in Christ has done
for sinners like you and me.
“BUT God demonstrated His own love for us – EVEN while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 – What this means is that God our creator saw our rebellion, our sin and our failure and instead of moving away from us condescended to send his Son to rescue us.
Jesus, who is God and one with the Father, came as a man, humbling himself as one of his creatures and lived the perfect life that we have not, died the death we deserved so that all those who trust in Him alone will be raised to life as he was raised.
II Corinthians 5:21
says “God made Him (Jesus), who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we
might become the righteousness of God.” So our just penalty for our sin
(death) was borne by Christ and his perfect righteousness is given to us
because God is rich in mercy.
Ephesians 2:4 says
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he
loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with
Christ—by grace you have been saved.”
The grace of God alone
is able to rescue you, my friend. Not your goodness or efforts to do right.
Titus 3:5 “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness,
but according to his own mercy”
So the meaning of life
and death is not found in ourselves or in our accomplishments or failures. Our
souls are not designed to find the answer to our longings in our work or
possessions or accolades. The longing that CS Lewis references can only be
satisfied in knowing Jesus
He is your maker – and
despite all your failures, and sin, and pride he has come that you may have
life – eternal life – with your maker and designer – with the one who formed
you and loves you. The question is What will you do with Jesus? Will you trust
him alone to save you?
I don’t know, Bill, if you will even see this and if you do if it will make any sense at all to you. But I know this is my only hope in life and in death. Jesus is the answer to the Kobayashi Maru scenario. And I am praying that you will find peace for your soul in Him.
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John 11:14 “Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.
John 11:35 “Jesus Wept”
What is Jesus glad about in verse 14? That “he was not there” Glad that he was not there to prevent Lazarus’ death! Not there to heal him of his sickness! Jesus says he is glad he was not there. Let this verse alone sink into your theology. God has something greater in mind for us than only healing or even preventing us from dying – Something so much greater in his mind that he says something as seemingly calloused as “I am glad I was not there” to heal and prevent death.