About Death: The Death of a Childhood

Romans 7:1 Since I am speaking to those who understand law, brothers, are you unaware that the law has authority over someone as long as he lives? 2 For example, a married woman is legally bound to her husband while he lives. But if her husband dies, she is released from the law regarding the husband. 3 So then, if she gives herself to another man while her husband is living, she will be called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law. Then, if she gives herself to another man, she is not an adulteress.

If death frees us from the law, and changes the circumstances and regulations of that previous yoke of responsibilities, it makes me curious to examine what sorts of deaths we truly have in life, the impact that those deaths have upon us, and how we mourn/praise those deaths.

At first thought I would suggest that there are a number of deaths worth examining:

  • The Death of a Childhood
  • The Death of a Relationship
  • The Death of a Person
  • The Death of Our First Adam
  • The Death of our Physical Self

Revelation 9:1 The fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to earth. The key to the shaft of the abyss was given to him. 2 He opened the shaft of the abyss, and smoke came up out of the shaft like smoke from a great furnace so that the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke from the shaft. 3 Then out of the smoke locusts came to the earth, and power was given to them like the power that scorpions have on the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green plant, or any tree, but only people who do not have God’s seal on their foreheads. 5 They were not permitted to kill them, but were to torment them for five months; their torment is like the torment caused by a scorpion when it strikes a man. 6 In those days people will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them.

Our inital response and thought to death is the hurt, pain and damage it does to us and those around us.  This passage of Revelation, however, shows a very distinct reason that people might actually seek death: to end their suffering, to move on to the next phase.

In all cultures, there is some sort of right of passage that tranisitions us from childhood to adult hood.  For a typical American teenager, that passage happens when they get their driver’s license, or attend their Prom, or – for some – graduate College and are now forced to live outside of their parent’s shelter.  In other cultures there are more set rites of passage, that make a boy into a man or a girl into a woman.  We are all so eager to achieve that status of being an adult… and then so many spend the rest of their lives trying to be a child again.

I think there is wisdom in acknowledging that – yes – our childhood died.  There is wisdom in caring for it and mourning for it.  But to seek it out continually, to want to return to a way of life that lacks responsibility or action and allows us to simply view the world with wide-eyed wonder is an insult to the path of life that has been laid before us.

The world needs men and women in their twenties, seeking to be respected by their peers and elders – their fellow adults – so that fresh energy and ideas can enter the cultures around them.  The world needs respected seniors honoring their roles as sages and wise leaders, instead of dirty old men trying to relive their “glory” days as a young and virle teenager exploring the world.  And the world needs all of adulthood, in all our stages, to help raise the children of the next generation.  If any generation renigns on their responsibility to the rising youth, then years of knowledge, emotion and memories are lost and the rising youth are missing key stories and elements from which to grow on.

So why do we long for the magical powers of youth?  Why do we seek to forget the lessons life has brought us to just make the mistakes of our less mature days over again?  Why do we not let the pieces of our childhood die when and how they, naturally, should?

Could we, instead, be honored to have a life like David’s?  Even being the youngest of his brothers, the Lord annointed him through Samuel to be the King of Isreal.  But his journey didn’t happen overnight.  Before he would be king, David would:

  1. Become a famous musician, and nearly be killed for it
  2. Defeat Goliath, after being mocked and laughed at
  3. Become best friends with the son of a man who was trying to kill him
  4. Serve his country in war, then be driven into hiding for it
  5. Survive the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, only to benefit from it

What would have happened to David if he had not had these experiences, and went from being a shepherd boy to a king overnight?  Which one of these was most forming for David to become a man of God – and a King?  How did David let his childhood die?

What are the moments where your childhood died?  When did you grow from being what you were, to what you are?


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