Not Just Roadkill…

When I was a kid, my dad and I were going somewhere together in his pickup. We drove up to the top of a hill to a stop sign, just like we had done hundreds of times before…then it happened…before my dad could do anything to stop it…a rabbit ran out under his truck and he ran over it. I remember that Dad reacted more strongly to this than I expected of him. I told him it was no big deal and that it happens all the time…animals get killed by cars…that’s the world we live in. He said the thing that bothered him most was the possibility that it would lie there and suffer until it finally died…he was just this side of shedding tears…that moment affected me deeply…my dad teaching me yet another lesson without meaning to. He then did what he really was not wanting to do but knew he had to…he made sure the rabbit was totally lifeless before we went on because he could not bear the thought of a living creature lying there in pain and fear…with the possibility of vultures or other animals coming to eat at its dying body while it was defenseless. My dad is not the overly sensitive type…he’s just a guy…a normal guy…he likes big engines, classic cars, guns, power tools, and action movies. He has no trouble getting his hands dirty and loves a good steak. But in this moment, he made me realize that there’s more to being a man than those things. There’s the value of life…which a true man has. Men…truly human men…realize that life is not a bio-mechanical existence, but instead it’s a gift from God…and God made all life…all beautiful…and even though death is a part of this present world…it doesn’t mean that we must simply accept it and become numb to its various manifestations.

Recently, I ran a marathon. It was something on my “bucket-list” and it was something I’d wanted to accomplish for 20 years. Finally, I hunkered down, became serious, and trained for it. The training schedule lasted about 4 months and the weekly long run would last for anywhere from 10 miles to 20 miles, graduating as time progressed. When I would run on the main roads, I would see it…over and over again…roadkill. I tend to be a little squeamish so I would kind of hold my breath and try to avoid looking at it…as well as running as far out around it as I safely could. One day…for some reason…I stared at a dead possum…lying there…mangled…bloody…twisted…dead. As I continued to run, in my head and heart, I prayed fervently to God, “How much longer will it be?! How much longer will we have to endure death?! How much longer will there be such grotesque destruction of precious life?!”

I think that we are so accustomed to seeing it that we have become desensitized to it…roadkill. We see animals…possum, raccoon, rabbit, dog, cat, and so on…lying on our roads…with the life crushed out of them. They are creatures God made…not just roadkill. The regularity with which we see such things has become an assault on our souls…weakening our understanding of what the Gospel is truly about…

I know…you’re wondering how I can go from roadkill…to a marathon…to the Gospel…but stay with me for just a few more minutes…

I believe that many of us think of the Gospel in terms of behavior modification. We recognize that we are sinners, realize that we cannot achieve righteousness on our own, and come to Christ for salvation, by asking Him to be our Lord and Savior, and then we try to be good. I’m not saying this is a bad thing…just somewhat incomplete. The Gospel isn’t simply about fixing our sinful behavior…it’s about resurrection…life…it’s about realizing that God is remaking the world…breathing new life into it. He is going to change it from it’s state of decay, degradation, and death to vibrancy and life and it began with the cross paying the penalty for our fallen state…and the empty tomb being the “firstfruits” of the world to come. The Gospel should make us look at a dead animal or human with a broken heart…longing to see our world set free from the curse it is under…groaning in our hearts, and crying in our souls…yet singing in our spirits…because we know that He’s going to do it. He has promised us that He will make all things new…and has given us the down-payment of this promise by placing a desire for such change in our hearts…like I saw in my dad’s heart that day more than 25 years ago.

Unfortunately, death is a part of this world, but we seem to be celebrating it these days. We seem to have no problem with it. Our TV shows become more and more violent and bloody, as well as our movies. We wonder why people in our world would take guns and/or other weapons and do some of the things they would do…but we don’t stop to think of how lightly we are taking death and more importantly, how little we value life. The Gospel is about life. It’s about the promise of a wolf and a lamb grazing together and a lion eating straw like an ox (Isaiah 65). It’s not so much about changing our behavior as much as understanding all of this will result in a change in our behavior…a change that’s based on realizing that we are created for life and to value life…all life…even that of a possum…and especially that of humanity, no matter who it is or what they’ve done. I don’t think the Gospel would have us run our cars off of the road into a ditch to prevent from hurting an animal…nor am I am trying to make an argument against capital punishment. But I think that it would have us to mourn death in all of its disgusting forms…celebrating the promise…the promise of re-creation…the promise of real life…the promise of what the Jews call Shalom…a promise of our world being restored to all God created it to be…

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6 comments on “Not Just Roadkill…

  1. Matt says:

    Good thought Steve. I continue to be amazed by how little regard some people have for human life. Jesus thought so much of human life that He gave his own for everyone else. The bible points out that scarcely for a righteous man would one die and peradventure (or perhaps) for a good man but Christ died for all. God’s love is extended to all. As imitators of Christ (Christians) we need to value all life. Thanks Brother

  2. Ryan Allison says:

    Very insightful! We are definitely numb to death in general. I had never attached that aspect of death to redemption. Solid, thanks bro.

  3. Melissa says:

    I completely agree.. The world would be a better place if we all valued ALL life more!!! What a difference it would make!!!!

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