Anglican Diocese of Armidale

The Anglican Diocese of Armidale exists to glorify God by introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven.


In Focus

Understanding Life Backwards

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I was and still am a great fan of Robin Williams. I laughed my way through Mork and Mindy and was moved by the Dead Poets Society. He was a man I wish I had met and when I consider the tragic circumstances of his death in August 2014 I wish I could have spent time with him. I think he was a man who need to be provided opportunity to spend more time with Jesus Christ. He was a brilliant man and I have no doubt he knew much about the One I would call King, Saviour, and Giver of Life.

Of course, Robin is now gone but not the circumstances that so often have us conflicted with life. Dave Itzkoff writes in the biography “Robin” of what I think could be considered a perfect storm for any human. The professional challenges of a stalled career and diminishing audiences came with the personal challenges of guilt over his divorce and an uncomfortable health diagnosis. Robin Williams was the man who accomplished all that one could hope for, enjoyed the materialism of success and could fill the side board with awards but as I read about him these words struck me, “Every stage of his career had been an adventure into the unknown, an improvisation in its own right, but there was truly no road map for where he was now…”  That may sound interesting, even exciting, but in truth it’s the journey of the lost.

As I read more I was struck again by the quoting of an episode of a show starring CK Louie and Robin Williams. In it these two men meet at the grave of a comedy-club manager who has recently died, and whom they both privately despised.  “When he died, I felt nothing,” Louie tells Robin. “I didn’t care. But I knew—when I pictured him going in the ground and nobody’s there, he’s alone. It gave me nightmares.” Robin replies, “Me too.”

It was Soren Kierkegaard the Christian philosopher who said “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” I am not a student of Kierkegaard but his comment makes sense. To start any journey with no map, with no consideration for its destination, may be a great adventure but it has the potential for so much disappointment, the development of conditions for serious depression and so little opportunity to prepare for its end.

The writer of Ecclesiastes made this comment, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to house of partying because death is the destiny of every person and the living should take this to heart.”  It sounds morbid but I think the writer is simply educating the likes of a Kierkegaard and a Robin Williams and you and me.  If the destination is death then eat, drink and be merry while you can but when the crowds stop applauding, awards carry dust, reflections on one’s guilt start assaulting and the diagnosis seems hopeless then something more is necessary.

During the historical visit of God with humanity, Jesus Christ said, “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” He wasn’t promising in this life that the applause would last forever, or that a diagnosis would not rock our world, or that death would not have to be confronted. He did however offer nothing less than the love of God. He taught wisdom for living life forward with purpose. He mapped out the journey and the destinations of our choices with encouragement and warnings. He alleviated guilt with forgiveness through his personal suffering. He overcame death with a resurrected life. He promised to all who looked to Him a future more compelling and more satisfying and more fulfilling than the life that we inevitably leave behind.

With Jesus Christ, the adventure of life is not diminished but becomes an adventure of trust in the one who came to seek and save the lost.  O to be provided with more time with Jesus Christ!