Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The veil that covers our eyes is the illusion of control. The paradox of living is that the very thing over which we believe we have the most control is the thing we have the least. We are told to make good decisions because our decisions will shape the rest of our lives. While this is true, it often leads us to misunderstand the level of control we actually have over our lives.

Decisions are important, but we don't actually have very much control over our life. The thing we have the least control over is the actual "life" part of our life. And this is what terrifies us the most.

A student walks into a college classroom and begins to open fire. Dozens of innocent lives are ended abruptly. The nation is horrified.

Two planes crash into twin towers. The nation watches in shock.

A car smashes into a truck and creates a pile-up on the highway. Cars creep by as their passengers stare at the wreckage.

A mother finds out that she has cancer. It's terminal. Her family mourns.

These events are the kind that scare us the most. My hunch is that there is something deeper in our fright than just death.

We all know we are going to die one day. We don't like to think about it but somewhere in the recesses of our mind we know it is true. We even know that some will die earlier than others. Early death is often shocking but not really a surprise. We know it has happened in the past and will continue to happen in the future.

Beyond the fear of death, I believe a greater fear lurks within. This fear is the life altering truth that we are not in control of death and, subsequently, life. Death can come in an instant. It doesn't need a reason to come. It doesn't need some meaningful cause. Death can come whenever and wherever it wants. It is not limited by logic, reason, or time. It can come in any form to any person in any moment.

It's not so much death itself, but our utter inability to control death that haunts us. Not being able to control death means that we do not have ultimate control over our lives. We can pretend that we do. But it is those who have gotten close enough to death to smell its breath who understand the reality that we are not in control.

As a reaction to this silent and haunting truth, some choose to self-medicate with wealth, pleasure, drugs and other forms of escapism. Still others wallow in the despair of it all. The first reaction tries to give life a temporal meaning. The second assumes life has no meaning. Both are different roads to the same emptiness.

Only hope of the eternal gives life eternal meaning. Only hope of life after death takes the fear out of death. Only trusting in the truth of Someone in control takes the terror out of being out of control. Only Someone who has defeated death can offer this sort of hope.

When the inevitable comes and when it comes suddenly, being out of control won't be so bad. Acknowledging that we are out of control is really just the admission that there is Someone greater to whom we can trust our life and death and new life.


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