Jim Henson died today.
Well, okay, he died thirty years ago this weekend (May 16, 1990).
I was a child when it happened. I heard it on the radio and asked my mother “who is Jim Henson?” She replied “He was the man who played Kermit the Frog.” A true statement, of course, but one that hardly summarized all he accomplished. Jim Henson was my childhood. The Muppets were then, and remain today, one of the most wholesome and pure forms of entertainment modern man has ever conceived. The Muppet Family Christmas remains a staple in our house every X-Mas Season (Halloween-New Years).
Also, her words shattered my worldview. To that point I didn’t know the Muppets weren’t real. Her telling me Jim Henson played Kermit meant that not only had the man who pretended to be Kermit the Frog died, but that Kermit the Frog wasn’t a real frog.
Talk about a double gut punch.
Henson was only fifty when he died. To a child of five, that’s ancient. To a man of thirty-five, it’s barely getting started. Several months ago one of my best friends died of cancer. He was in his forties. During this pandemic we’ve heard reports of people dying of all ages, but most of them being what we’d call middle aged.
When you’re young, your thoughts about the future are usually just wild dreams. When you’re old, the past is what you dwell on, not the future. During the years in between is when we make concrete plans and work to achieve those goals. We think about what we’ll do in two years, in five years, in ten years. We use words like “later,” or “eventually” and “next.” Those are powerful words because they give us motivation.
Death robs us of those words.
Death takes away the “next” thing we had planned. Death deprives us of what we wanted to do “later.” Death cuts “eventually” off at the knees.
But there’s one word death can’t touch: “forever.”
Forever means never-ending. Death might still happen, but it can’t stop “forever.” In Jesus, “forever” is the best word to use when talking about the future, because in Jesus, forever means…
Forever at rest
Forever in bliss
Forever with friends
Forever with Jesus
And when you’re a Christian, death is no longer something to fear. Death becomes a conquered foe. When you’re a Christian, death simply transitions you to a new life. You may not get to do all the earthly things you planned, but you get to enjoy something far better: Forever.