Wednesday, February 20, 2008

All is Well (?)

When Demetrios holds me and I’m crying in his arms, it seems to me, as it always has, as if Christ Himself were holding me in His arms. Then, no matter how bad external things are, I am deeply aware that they cannot affect the inner man; that in that sense, the old Mormon hymn is right to say, “All is well, all is well!” Not, “It is well with my soul” in the sense that my soul is in good shape; God knows it isn’t. But in the sense St. Paul meant when he wrote, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

The other night, crying in Demetrios’ arms again, I began to ponder what it would be like to die of cancer, or of anything else, and to contemplate the certain hope we have, that whatever that experience may be, however difficult and frightening, when we reach the very bottom of it, the darkest part of the pit – then, suddenly, we are in the arms of Christ, and all is light and all is peace and all is well. (And for that matter, we are in His arms all through the whole process, but consummately in the end.)

Then I began wondering whether that happens to every child who dies. But why stop at children? I asked myself, “Do you think that is the experience of everyone, at death? They find themselves in the Lord’s strong, tender arms? Then surely that will give them the courage to face anything. Surely they will be able to face their own misspent lives, and joyously renounce everything that stood between them and their Lord, and cling to Him, grateful that the disobedience of their bodies is now ended and nothing more separates them…”

And then I remembered. Sure, everybody who dies does find himself in Christ’s loving embrace. God will have all His children back, as is right and good. And they will all worship Him.

It’s just that some people, incredible as it sounds, may find that situation horrifying, intolerable, sheer hell.

Or maybe not. The Orthodox, at least, are allowed and encouraged to hope that somehow, in a way yet to be revealed, miraculously, hell may be empty.

(Words to that lovely Mormon hymn, ”Come, Come, ye Saints”, a quintessentially American song, are here;


Anonymous said...

A beautiful post, and a powerful testimony of faith. Thank you for sharing. I imagine that when we die, we will have so much joy we will wonder why we ever didn't do it sooner! :) But perhaps the longer we live on earth, and the more challenges we overcome and relationships we make, the sweeter our homecoming will be. All is well!