The weather was great.
The lodge was beautiful.
He enjoyed the tour.
Cibolo Creek Ranch is an exclusive resort in West Texas, not far from the Mexican border.
He was here for the weekend to do what he loved just about more than anything else – hunt.
He dined with the other guests Friday evening and was his usual animated and jovial self.
Still, he was tired from the trip and at around 9:00 PM, he graciously excused himself and retired to his bedroom. The next morning he failed to join the others for breakfast but they thought he had chosen to sleep in. After he didn’t show later, there was concern.
When someone knocked on his door there was no answer.
Upon entering his room, they found him lying in bed, clad in his pajamas.
“He was very peaceful,” the resort owner later told NBC News.
Somewhere in the night the well-ordered and monumental life of Antonin Scalia came to an end. His incredible mind, unconscious in sleep, would think no more. His passionate heart, courageous, convicted and filled always with joy and the love of life, beat its last.
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Scalia, 79, was the brilliant intellectual anchor of the conservative wing of that Court. Widely regarded as Ronald Reagan’s most significant appointment to the bench, Scalia served nearly thirty years. His eloquent opinions, often as a dissent from the Court’s majority, were the stuff of legend. His arguments were powerful, his logic incisive and his manner cordial but direct.
Scalia, a proud and devout Roman Catholic from a Jesuit background, loved his family, his faith and his country.
He also cherished the Constitution and thought the founders who wrote it should be heeded.
He was a conservative icon.
He leaves a rich and historic legacy as arguably the most consequential jurist of our time. There is now a silence on the Supreme Court – and a void – that will not be easily filled.
For all his brilliance and influence, Antonin Scalia could not order the time or circumstances of his step into eternity. He had made his weekend plans but God had made his own long before.
In every unexpected death, especially one so notable, you and I are reminded of the uncertainty and brevity of life and the sovereignty of God.
“We can make our plans,” Proverbs tells us, “but the Lord determines our steps” (Proverbs 16:9, NLT). “For what is your life?” James asks. “It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away” (James 4:14, NKJV).
“… a puff of smoke, a mist …” (The Amplified Bible).
Our lives – even the lives of the great and mighty among us – are so terribly fragile. Someday for every person the silver chord shall break. The time and cause of that separation have been determined with the same divine precision that set our entrance into this life.
God knows – and he alone declares – the end from the beginning.
You and I have a rendezvous with death and eternity. It is an appointment we must keep, all our other plans notwithstanding. We shall not be late; we shall not be early. And we shall not know.
Woody Allen famously remarked, “I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens”.
But he will.
The word “appointed” in Hebrews 9:27 of the King James Version is pregnant with meaning. Our death in this world was specifically arranged before this world was formed. Our appointment cannot be canceled, postponed or re-scheduled.
Justice Scalia kept his at a ranch in West Texas.
Scalia’s death not only reminded us of life’s uncertainty. It also set off a political firestorm that has dramatically raised the already high stakes of this presidential election. It reads like a fast-paced novel.
The senior conservative justice on the Supreme Court dies unexpectedly while on a hunting trip in West Texas. The White House is occupied by a liberal lame duck Democrat who is African American. The United States Senate is controlled by the Republicans.
This sudden shift in the Court’s ideological balance takes place against the backdrop of one of the most contentious and bizarre presidential campaigns in American history – starring a controversial former Secretary of State, a card-carrying Socialist and a bombastic billionaire.
Get some popcorn and grab a front-row seat!
Truth is so often more exciting and implausible than fiction.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Watching this drama unfold over the coming weeks and months, we’ll all get a refresher in civics.
The President has the constitutional right to nominate a justice, just as the Senate has the constitutional right to confirm or reject that nomination. Madison and his colleagues called this “advise and consent”. It’s the delicate checks and balances they built our government on.
Yes, the stakes are incredibly high this year.
Christian leaders – and especially pastors – need to realize this and urge their congregations to pray and pay attention. If there was ever a time to reject the high cost of indifference this is it.
Generations will be indelibly shaped by what happens in the next ten months.
Old Ben Franklin reminded us that “God governs in the affairs of men”.
We have just seen his hand again. You may be sure he has a purpose.
Strange how much history can hang on a single heartbeat.