I have come to have a very different view of death than I did when I was much younger. I heard the tragic news today that a relative of some relatives passed away today. I am saddened by his passing, for his family, but as far as he's concerned, I envy his condition. He's done...finished. The race is over, and he's finally free from this world.
That sounds depressing and morose, but it isn't. I truly long to be gone from this place. I love it, and I love my family and friends, and look forward to many years more of enjoying them and enjoying all that life has to offer, but there is no doubt that I see death as something to be embraced. When you die, it's finished, praise be to God!
This life is hard. Let's face it. We're continually running into disappointments, sadness, illness and the like. But thankfully, it's not all like that. We have the joy of people, the gift of simple pleasures, the gift of a beautiful day where all seems to be made to order. Lewis said often in his letters and writing that it is on those days where he finds himself longing for heaven most. It's not on the days that are dark and dismal, filled with despair that he feels the longing for heaven--it's on the days where he believes he can hear an echo of that far away country that awakens a longing deep within that calls to him to enter.
I'm the exact opposite, and for awhile, upon reading what Lewis wrote, I felt that I should view it as he does. But I'm not Lewis. It's when life is most hard and difficult, when I'm most keenly aware of my shortcomings, when I feel most lonely or depressed that I long for heaven most. I desire to be free of this world, and long to cross over. I embrace this life as my journey, but there are times when I long for it to be over, and today, I happen to envy the man who passed away. He's in a far better place than we can know. But for now, we are called to run the race. I'll just be incredibly happy when I cross the finish line.
May that time be many years from now.