The relatively recent Newsboys single, “God’s Not Dead (Like a Lion)” has new meaning for me tonight. The simple words of the chorus, “God’s not dead; he’s surely alive. He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion,” have a deeply profound meaning for every single human being on this planet.
Tonight I had an amazing experience; I could even qualify it as a religious experience. I want to give you fair warning though – once you learn the details of this experience, you may not think of it as amazing or religious at all, but fairly gruesome and morbid. That is okay! To each their own, right? But I encourage you to continue reading anyway.
I have been finishing the Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course with the U.S. Army over the past several weeks (CH-BOLC Class 13-001 Hooah!); as part of our training we visited a local medical school and had the chance to look at, touch, and examine cadavers; these are people who have donated their deceased bodies to the school to be used for science. We talked with medical professors and students, learning about all of the incredible systems of the human body. But here is what you may think is morbid – I held a human brain in my hands. I held a human heart. I held a lung. I held many other various parts of the body, like a leg and a stomach and a head.
I know – it may make some people queasy. It may make you reading this right now queasy. I was nervous that I might get queasy before I walked in to the room with the cadavers.
But I didn’t get queasy. In fact, the entire time I was there, I could not help but think to myself that the human body is absolutely amazing. It has extremely complex systems that all work together cohesively. Muscles are interconnected all over the body. The lungs, the heart, the airway, the esophagus, and who knows what other parts (I am by no means a medical doctor), were all packed tightly together inside the ribcage like pieces of well integrated and almost woven puzzle, protected by bones and muscle. The stomach and other organs were right underneath it.
There is the spine protecting a sensitive power cord leading down the back, pulling and sending information from all over the body back and forth to the brain, all within fractions of fractions of fractions of milliseconds. Then there is the brain, which doctors are constantly learning about more and more, which is basically a living computer more powerful and more complex than any other information system in the world. Even inside the skull, it is protected by a “tough mother” (quite literally dura mater) which is perhaps some of the strongest material on the planet.
All of this, together, forms who we are as self-aware, living, breathing, moving, intelligent, creative, emotional, spiritual, and every other adjective that you could insert, human beings.
And as I listened to the doctors, professors, and medical students, I realized just how much of an absolute miracle the human body is. Whether perfected by God over millions of years or created in a single day, there can be no argument that its creation was guided by the hand of a powerful, intelligent, and loving God.
But that is just a description of a lifeless human body being examined by students! Somehow life itself once pulsed throughout that body. Somehow that heart got its very own self-sustaining electrical current that makes it pump blood through the body every day. Somehow that brain received a consciousness making the person aware of who they are and what they are doing in life. Self-awareness and everything that comes with it – this characteristic is only true of the human being. That simple fact makes us realize that there is something more to us; there is something to the idea that the human is possibly the culmination of the creation and that we have great responsibilities as that pinnacle being.
But what brought consciousness to us? What made us aware of who we are? What changed the human from a lifeless body in the dust to a living, breathing, moving, intelligent, emotional, spiritual, and every other adjective that you could insert, human being? And what separated us from every other magnificent animal which is out there roaming the earth?
Genesis 2:7 gives us an answer: “…then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”
God has breathed life into every single one of us. Every human that has ever walked the ground, they have been alive and known who they were because of the breath of God, sustaining them in life. God’s Spirit gives us life. God’s Spirit, breathed into every single one of us, and whether we want to recognize it or deny it, is the only reason we are living, breathing, moving, intelligent, creative, emotional, spiritual, and every other adjective that you could insert, human beings. God’s Spirit is the reason we are self-aware and the reason God has given us this great responsibility as the culmination of creation. God’s Spirit is the reason why our hearts beat every day, pumping blood through our bodies so that we can walk, run, laugh, breathe, talk, write, play music, and just share life with one another.
God created us in his image. It’s an image of God himself: love. We are sustained in life and in love only by his Spirit. Apart from his Spirit we are dying creatures. In his Spirit, we learn to truly live as we were created to be. This gives us a clue that to love one another is a critical element of life itself, an essential piece of understanding the meaning of life.
Unfortunately, each one of us will die. It’s simply the result of the overwhelming amount of separation there is from God, our sustainer, in the world; there’s nothing we can do to stop ourselves from dying. It’s just the way it is.
But I want to share some hope with you as you finish reading this short article: one day, at the end of this age, God will once again breathe life into our bodies. We will be raised from the dead, and upon God examining the condition of our hearts, God will permit us to live in an eternal paradise of a new creation, free from any kind of death, and with Christ as our King. God will draw our physical bodies together once again from whatever state of decay they may be in, whether they are buried in the ground, cremated into ashes, or even if they are cadavers donated to a medical school so students can learn and advance in scientific knowledge, and then God will breathe life into us once again. We will awaken into true life with God.
Today, you are alive (duh, right?)! God’s breath is in you right now! God’s Spirit is in you, whether you accept it or whether you vehemently deny it; God is within you, causing your heart to beat, your brain to think, and your thoughts to consider these very words that I have written. It is something to rejoice in! It is something to truly be in awe of! It is a reason to love others and love God with everything that you are!
So as I conclude my thoughts, I leave you once more with the words to the chorus of the recent Newsboys song:
“God’s not dead; he’s surely alive.
He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion.”