Remember Death – Thoughts on Steve Jobs’ Passing

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I’ll miss Steve. I have been an Apple fan for a while and kept abreast of the resurrected tech company as they have grown to their present prominence.

I hope to meet Steve in heaven. I know he wasn’t a perfect guy (neither am I). However he was a great leader, loved his wife, valued his kids, and had a passion for beauty. I’m hoping somewhere amongst these he found God.

His physical death is certainly a sad thing. However, the thought of potentially losing him (or anyone) to a spiritual death is the true tragedy. After celebrity deaths, I have always noticed this lingering hope in my heart that I’d meet them someday in paradise. I notice that it has been there all along. In fact, I notice that I have this secret hope for every person I have ever encountered; this secret hope of final reconciliation, and this secret fear that perhaps some will refuse it.

The “Prayer for Those We Love” by St. Ambrose has always rung true to these hopes and fears:

Lord God, We can hope for others nothing better than the happiness we desire for ourselves. Therefore, I pray you, do not separate me after death from those I tenderly loved on earth. Grant that where I am, they may be with me, and that I may enjoy their presence in heaven after being so often deprived of it on earth. Lord God, I ask you to receive your beloved children immediately into your life-giving heart. After this brief life on earth, grant us eternal happiness. Amen. (Saint Ambrose of Milan 339-397)

This is what we wish for all people – from the celebrity to our closest friends and family. What a loss it would be for any of the human family to be absent in eternity?

I recall the loss I felt even around the deaths of troubled celebrities such as Michael Jackson or Heath Ledger. Not that I presume to judge their souls – and I earnestly pray for their Salvation – but one can certainly ascertain their spiritual peril. Furthermore, even the most infamous of these was the victim of their own sins and of sin itself, and thus should never be beyond our sympathy. But what a loss it would be if such troubled souls were never rescued and reconciled in the end?

Regardless of the lives they led, the loss of the least of these is loss indeed.

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” (C.S. Lewis)

I should have prayed for them more. Their physical death is a loss, but their spiritual death would be the true tragedy. The body of Christ, our eventual heavenly family, humanity in general would have lost a soul of infinite value and mystery.

The loss is infinite because a soul is of infinite worth. But the worth is not simply in what a soul is but in what it can be and was made to be. Every soul was made for God – for infinite, incalculable, glory. For this reason, the tragedy is both in the depths to which a soul may have fallen to its death but also in the heights to which it could have risen: they could have been saints.

“In the end, life offers only one tragedy: not to have been a saint” (Charles Peguy)

As the dust settles in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death, I am encouraged to hear stories of admiration by those who worked with him. I am encouraged by accounts of his love of his wife and his children (see Taylor Marshall’s Blog: I was encouraged to hear of his somewhat inexplicable determination to keep porn off of the iDevices. I truly hope that Steve found God in the end. In fact, I hope that it wasn’t really the end at all.

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