My first friend in Antigua was 70-year-old Junie James. Blind for years, Mr. James still made it to church every Sunday where we shared a pew. Once, when I confessed I was having some difficulty adjusting, he said, “Here in Antigua we say, ‘Wiggle on outta dat’—like a worm wiggling out of a hole.” Mr. James was telling me not to get stuck in my dark hole but to persevere. Eventually I’d see the light.
Barely two months after we met, Mr. James slipped and fell on his concrete floor. He hit his head and died.
Mr. James’ funeral took place after a night of rain. The soil in the cemetery was like glue. It took six rubber-booted gravediggers 45 minutes to cover the coffin. Not even a worm could “wiggle on outta dat” mud.
There is pain at a Christian funeral. We are struck dumb by the finality of box and dirt and dark, dark hole. We are stunned by death’s greed. We weep.
But there is joy at a Christian funeral too. Faith wiggles on out of despair. It rises to the light of truth: that “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). Jesus paid the wages of our sin. He rose from death. He will pull his forgiven children from death’s sleep. No grave can hold us. No hole is too dark or too deep. In Christ, we will wiggle on out of death and awaken to eternal life.