Ray had received one of those reports that people dread. Even when you have been blessed with a long life you do not want to hear a doctor say, ‘I’m sorry. There is nothing more we can do.’ And when you ask the next question it is hard to comprehend the ‘…it could be weeks, maybe months’ answer.
We sat there in the hospital room. I was trying to gauge how Ray and his wife were dealing with this news. They were both life-long Christians, believers in the Resurrection. Still, for many people of faith, the questions that come about at a moment like this usually include some serious ‘why’ thoughts. It is a mystery soup consisting of God and faith and doubt.
So I just came right and asked him, “Ray how are you feeling about this news?” He said, “Well, life is like a clock, and mine is now ticking toward ‘12’. Everyone dies. But I do not fear dying. I know heaven awaits me. What’s the verse? Was it the one about the deer? What’s that one?”, he asked. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God. For the living God. When can I go and meet with God.”
Or maybe it was the one about “why are you downcast?” “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God.” “Yes”, he said, “that’s it.”
For Ray the fact that the clock was ticking was not something to dread, but something to anticipate, like a deer panting for water. His soul was not disquieted because he knew that the grave was empty, and that he would rise with Jesus to ‘yet praise my savior and my God.’
It is this hope which stirs behind the rock on this Holy Saturday. The ‘sure hope’ that the rock will be rolled away and that life will come forth. The clock ticks for all of us. If you really can believe all of these things then you believe that the striking of ‘12’ on the clock does not signal darkness but the dawn’s proclamation, “He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!”