The first calf that died in our barn was named Grace. She was a pretty little black thing with a white heart on her forehead. When she got sick I tried everything to save her. Sat in the barn for hours trying to coax fluid and meds into her.
I fed her one morning with a bottle because she wasn’t strong enough for a bucket. That afternoon I came back and lifted her head to see if she was okay. I dropped her and screamed. Her tongue was hanging out and her eyes wide in a death-stare. It freaked me right out. I couldn’t sleep that night, the horror-story quality of that dead calf burned in my memory.
This morning there were two dead calves. A mama stepped on her new baby and another hung herself by her neck chain. My husband was busy feeding cows so I lugged them into the center aisle and tossed them in a pile for him to take out and bury later.
All during milking I stepped over those dead calves. They didn’t bother me much. I mean, I dislike dead animals, but it happens. I didn’t look at them, certainly not at their face and unseeing eyes. In fact, I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring dead things altogether. They’re just there.
In life, the first time I committed a new sin it would freak me right out. The lie that dripped from my lips? I threw up later that night. The candy-bar I stole? I never ate it. It made me ill to look at it. The first time I harbored a grudge? I couldn’t sleep at night. The list is endless.
But as the years went by I got better at overlooking my sins. Something in me hardened and I learned to step over and not look death in the face.
I learned to ignore and pretend and I got more brazen and my sins ran deeper and now sometimes before I know it, my life starts stinking of death.
I tore apart a piece of bread this morning. Just a roll that I was going to slather with butter and jam. And something in me awakened. His voice echoing,
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” (Matt. 26:26)
Why is the cross at the very center of our faith? Why does communion, baptism, being a servant, all of the Christian faith center on death?
Because if you don’t look death in the face you’ll learn to overlook it.
It’s what we do!
I’ll walk through life and step over death and ignore it and think that I’m free from it but it’ll still be there and I’ll still be covered in the stench.
And God says, “No! Look death in the face. You think it’s the face of fear and condemnation? Look again. I conquered death so now I rule it. Look death in the face so you can see me.”
In looking at death, all the sins that pile up and reek, it loses its power. Because in the face of death, for the Believer, is the face of our Jesus. The one who stands between us and condemnation.
The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
When light shines, darkness flees. When truth illuminates, lies cower. When God speaks, the Enemy is silenced.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)
In acknowledging my sin, I am freed from it. Oh, Jesus. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.