(Editor’s Note: The following is excerpted from chapter 8 in Carl’s book, Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment.)
On the evening of August 8, 1995, a pickup truck lost control as it approached a wooden bridge less than a mile from my parent’s farm. It had rained late in the afternoon, and the dirt road was slick. Something happened right before the river crossing and the truck kicked sideways onto the bridge, impacting the wooden guardrail.
Who knows how long the old rail planking had been there? It crumbled and broke and shattered in an instant, and the truck tumbled into the river below, landing upside down.
The driver, a young man named Jeff, miraculously survived the accident. The passenger did not. That day Jeff began a new journey in the metaphorical valley of grief, walking, side-by-side, with the Teichrib family. The passenger was my youngest brother. Bevan was 17 years old.
An hour or so before the tragedy, my wife and I, with our two-month-old son, had been at the farm celebrating Jeff’s birthday with a family supper. As per the norm there was a lot of talk and laughter. It was a good day.
After the meal, Jeff and Bevan decided to go see a movie, which meant driving 50 miles to a small city. It was sometime after they left when we received a disturbing phone call; a truck was in the river, and rescue vehicles were on the scene. In this part of the country neighbors are not strangers, so it was very likely someone we knew was in trouble. Dad and I scrambled into his truck and headed for the bridge, however, a police roadblock at the top of the valley hill prevented us from going further. We sat on the road, watching and wondering, until an officer – prompted by a local fireman – reluctantly told us who had been pulled from the water. The ambulance had already taken them both, we were told.
Racing to the farm we picked up my mother, leaving my wife Leanne to look after the baby – not an ideal situation given the circumstances – and we rushed to the hospital. When we arrived, the paramedics and a few of the firemen, people we know personally, lined the hallway as we walked in. Their heads were bowed in pain and silence.
After seeing the body, making agonizing phone calls, and visiting Jeff in his room, we quietly returned to the farm. The yard was filled with vehicles. News of the death had spread like a prairie fire, and family, friends, and neighbors had flocked to my parent’s place.
Needing to clear my head, I hopped on Bevan’s motorcycle and rode to the bridge. The air was cool in the dusk, and the light of the near-full moon illuminated the damaged structure. The truck had been pulled out and towed away hours ago, and the river had returned to its tranquil state.
Somebody else was at the crash scene. A fellow I knew from a nearby town was on the bridge, curious about the accident.
“How are you doing, Carl?”
“Not good,” I responded factually. “But God will get us through this.”
And He did.
Was it difficult? That summer I cried a river of tears. We all did.
Was God our crutch? Yes, and I am so thankful! Although we grieved, it was never without hope.
Life can be very testing. My mother, a remarkable woman of wisdom and courage, battled cancer three times before it took her at the age of 67. My father, a man of conviction and understanding, comes from a farming era when brute strength and sheer toughness was as necessary as food. The first year my parents were married, Dad was in an airplane crash that killed his brother; the physical damage caused by this drop-from-the-sky, compounded with a long list of farm and machinery accidents, has taken a heavy toll. I have never known my father to be without pain.
Life can be trying and hard and short. Every person reading this will have a story of trials and troubles. No one has a monopoly on suffering, nor is suffering an argument for the non-existence of God. Jesus Himself intimately knew betrayal, pain, suffering, and the sharpness of death: He felt our plight. And if we are honest with ourselves, we too know the sting is never far away. Pain and mortality are not illusions, as suggested in some Eastern spiritual philosophies. Goodness and righteousness, beauty and kindness, mercy and grace – these too are real, and marvelous.
Sin is not an illusion either, and thankfully, neither is forgiveness.
Leading up to His own execution, Jesus Christ encouraged His disciples with these words,
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
Three days after his crucifixion, Christ proved His power over death.
Unlike Oneness1“What is monism?” ; Matt Slick, CARM.org – the belief that God, Humanity and Nature all share the same essence, and that separation is an illusion – with its blending away of relationships and its submergence of love into a nameless void, the resurrection of Christ demonstrated the eternal, relational character of the Godhead:
1) The Spirit raised Christ from the dead: “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)
2) Jesus raised Himself: “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (John 10:17-18)
3) God the Father raised Jesus Christ: “having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” (Acts 2:24) And, “God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.” (1 Corinthians 6:14)
In this act of overcoming the grave, the hope of humanity was placed on His shoulders alone.
I am reminded of Job, the Old Testament figure who lost his family, possessions, and health. Wracked with grief and misery, the likes of which are beyond my comprehension, Job nevertheless recognized that God’s ultimate plan is bigger than our temporary sufferings, no matter how severe. Job knew a resurrection was on the horizon, not fashioned by Man’s hands, but completed through God’s living Messiah.
Job’s future is our future for those who hope and trust in the Savior,
“For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)
Death could not hold Jesus Christ. How would it? For Christ is the Author of Life. And in His resurrection, a foretaste is given to those who hope in Him as Redeemer: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4)
Will you put your hope in nature? In humanism? In the illusion of Oneness? Or will you trust Jesus Christ, in whom “all things were made?” (John 1:3)
Paul, “a bondservant of Jesus Christ,” (Romans 1:1) put it simply but elegantly,
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’.” (Romans 10:9-13)
Yes, we will all answer – one way or another – the life-or-death question asked by Jesus the Messiah,
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)Ω
Carl Teichrib is the author of Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment, and excerpts can be read at Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantmenthis research reports and articles can be found at Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment Forcing Change
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