Happy Rebirthday! :: By Terry James

Cat Ballou, a 1965 movie, sparked my thinking on this commentary. Although I didn’t spend much time watching them, back when I could see to watch movies, it was one of my favorites.

It is a Western comedy and rated as one of the best ever. I certainly agree in that it was hilarious throughout.

Now some will probably castigate my thinking for finding Lee Marvin in the part of Kid Shelleen hilarious because the character is a drunken, over-the-hill-gunfighter. Nonetheless, I will use Shelleen, hopefully, to offer something of value in thinking on God’s great promise.

Cat Ballou, as many will remember, is the sweet, easy-going young woman played by Jane Fonda. The character’s father has been shot and killed by a gunfighter, leaving poor Cat to fend for herself.

So, she and several of her friends decide to hire a gunfighter to come and help her fend off the evil rich rancher who wants her father’s land (now hers).

Enter Kid Shelleen. When he arrives on the afternoon stage, a man dressed in all black, with a coat with long tails and guns on either side of his hips, steps from the coach. But a family quickly joins that gentleman, little kids, wife, and all. It isn’t the hired gun.

The driver of the stage comes around to the back of the coach, undoes a rope or something, and a man falls out of the compartment. It is none other than Kid Shelleen, the infamous gunfighter they had sent for some time earlier.

He is inebriated–totally snockered.

The funniest scene, in my opinion, is when the drunken Shelleen walks in on the funeral service for Cat Ballou’s father.

The first thing he sees is a blaze of candles everywhere. He immediately takes off his cowboy hat and places it on his chest, then starts bellowing out, “Happy birthday to you”!

I’m sorry, but that is hilarious.

Let me see, now… how in the world am I going to use this bit of nonsense to not only not offend but to make a salient point?

When we lose those we love to that horrible, sin-engendered thing that came upon the world with Adam’s Fall in the garden, death, there is nothing funny about it in any way. We grieve, and rightfully so. Jesus, Himself, did so at his friend Lazareth’s death.

I, myself, have grieved within recent years and months over those taken in death whom we loved and miss terribly. But, at the same time, there is great salving of that grief with knowledge given us in God’s Word. Paul the apostle wrote the following to grieving Thessalonians. It is a passage we’re quite familiar with.

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Paul told us that he would prefer to be with the Lord but that it was better for him, in order to do God’s work, to remain with the Christians he was assigned by God to address. Paul was always pointing back to Christ’s resurrection and its unsearchable wonders. He was often, I think, almost frustrated because, in human terms, he couldn’t communicate the full power and glory of what the Lord Jesus’ resurrection meant to him and the whole world. For example, he wrote the following as reflection on Old Testament Scripture.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Over many years, I’ve been at funerals of family and friends. My experience has been–and I hear the same experiences told by Christians who have attended believers’ funerals—not of a dark mood of mourning but of tears governed by heavenly assurance. There are often smiles and interactions filled with joy in knowing all is well with our temporarily departed loved ones.

I remember, at the funerals of my dad in 1992 and my mother in 2020, that same sense of grief, yes, but mostly of joy over knowing that they were instantaneously in the loving presence of the Lord at their passing.

That is where I can come off claiming their deaths were—and yours and mine will be—a HAPPY REBIRTHDAY! – That is, of course, unless the Rapture happens first, which seems like an almost certainty at any moment considering the prophetic signals we are witnessing. At that time, it will be a much more magnificent celebration than even a REBIRTHDAY!

If you are wondering how you could ever consider the death of someone you love as a thing to be joyous about, and haven’t accepted the One who makes such a promise of future joy possible, here is God’s formula you must follow:

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9–10).