We are happy to welcome Mike Bonikowsky again in this exclusive follow-up article to Can we go out today? This time Mike speaks from his perspective as a Christian and shares how his faith and work intersect, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.
The musician Jon Foreman, quoting a terminally ill friend, says that our purpose here is not to learn how to live, but how to die. During this season of forced and mutual deprivation, when our consolations are taken from us one by one and we are continually and graphically reminded of the mortality of our species, I turn to the men I support for wisdom and guidance. They are used to living without consolation, and living in the presence of death. I look to them to teach me how to be quarantined. I look to them to teach me how to die.
They do not worry about the things I worry about. They do not fear the things I fear. They live, in many ways, as Jesus taught us to: Like the flowers of the field and the birds of the air. They know that they will receive what they need in time. They know dinner will be made at 5, and that meds will follow. They know that when they call for assistance, it will come. For better or for worse, they trust the caregivers God has sent them. They know that God will keep the virus from their door, and that if he doesn’t, that they will go to heaven. This is a given for them. They are ready.
I used to take a woman I supported for walks around her neighborhood in her wheelchair. As we walked, she would wave to her neighbors. “That’s my mom and dad,” she’d say, waving to strangers she had never met. “There’s my grandma and grandpa.” “But”, I’d venture after a while, “Didn’t you tell me your mom and dad and grandma and grandpa were in heaven with Jesus?” “Yes,” she’d reply, “But they’re also here.” There was no difference between this world and the next for her, although her life here was by no means easy or free of pain. There was no difference between then and now and the time to come. She was already inhabiting eternity, as all of us are but so few can comprehend. The kingdom had come, on earth as it was in heaven, and she could see it. She was already there.
And so are we. The work has been accomplished, though we must live it out every day. The war has already been won, though every day we struggle to live out that victory. It is these bodies that will be raised and redeemed, the ones we live in every day, the ones we care for in our work. We know how to live. We are learning how to die.