While traveling to and from Russia, I read the Steven James’ latest novel, Singularity (The Jevin Banks Experience, Book #2). It was a good, well written story that kept me engrossed and helped pass the time on the long flights and layovers.
I appreciate how the author weaves Christian values and principles into his stories without coming across as preachy. While entertaining, the author causes his readers to think. Here are two quotes from the book that caused me to reflect on life and death.
After the death of a friend, Jevin Banks, the main character, begins to reflect on life and how we fill our days.
My friend Emilio is dead. He will never smile again, never laugh again, never dream or hope or love again. It’s over. Whatever he might have wanted to accomplish in this life will remain forever undone. His soul has escaped this vale of tears and slipped into eternity, and his body has been left behind for us to mourn and bury. Dust to dust. Life to death. Hope to grief.
I arrive at his corpse and stand for a moment looking down at the sheet covering his body. It strikes me that we cover the dead, we treat them with respect, not for their sake but for ours. We extend reverence to corpses in an attempt to affirm the value of our own lives and to mask the stark truth of our own mortality.
After all, if we just treated our dead like the skin-encased sacks of blood and bones and soon-to-be-rotten meat that they are, we would feel that—apart from the breath that separates us—we’re as finite and susceptible to the grim reaper as they were. And that’s just too terrifying a thought.
So we distract ourselves, divert our attention from all that, cover up the truth beneath the frantic, stifling busyness of our brief and worried days. If I were a devil trying to tempt people to squander their lives, I would simply keep them buried in urgency and obsessed with trivialities; otherwise they might just take the time to reflect on life and death and eternity and wake up to the things that matter most. (my emphasis)
During the brief memorial service for Emilio, Charlene—the Christian in the story—shares a biblical view of death.
Xavier and I say a few words, then Charlene, who isn’t afraid of expressing her faith, gets up. She reads from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”
She speaks for a few moments about hope and how much it matters and how vital it is that we place ours in the right person—she says “person”’ rather than “place,” which strikes me as a bit of an odd way to phrase things. The villagers and police officers listen quietly to her translator.
Finally, she recites the 23rd Psalm from memory, and a line about walking through the valley of the shadow of death strikes me. I guess I’d always thought the Bible said the “valley of death,” but it’s just the “shadow of death” instead. And if a shadow is covering the valley, it means there’s a brighter light shining somewhere beyond the horizon.