I have had the holy and extremely intimate privilege a few times in my life. Sitting beside the bed of a loved one, as they near the end of their earthly life. Seeing the faraway look in their eyes makes me wonder what it would be like to view the world as they see it.
Or to be able to see into both worlds; the one I’m leaving, and the one I’m entering.
To be so close to the door of death and just a step away from the heavenly welcome, but still trapped in a body that’s shutting down.
What is it like? How does it feel to have my body actually kick me out of its house?
To see my sons and daughters, grandkids and friends, talking, laughing, crying and embracing while I lie in my bed. What is it like?
Is it consoling to watch people come and go, staying long enough to look into my fading eyes, force a smile and whisper, “I love you”; then pat my hand and hug my family? What kind of feeling is that? What is it like?
Though it’s hard to speak, and even harder to listen, is it possible to remember the joys I’ve experienced and the storms I’ve weathered? Will my tears of thanksgiving truly depict my love to my family, and for my Savior?
Can I recount God’s faithfulness though I may not remember anything else, including my own name?
How quickly do I leave my body after my last breath is gone, and my heart ceases to beat? Will I float or soar? Will I see those huddled around my bed? Will they hear me when I say goodbye?
I wonder what it’s like.
Is it possible to see angels approaching while I stare at my loved ones? Can I hear Heaven’s choir above my silent din?
Are the hours I’m asleep just my way of saying I’ll be gone soon? Or am I busy in my dreams, visiting with my heavenly guide, preparing for my final trip?
Will my eyes see clearly, once the dark film of this life is finally removed?
What will it be like to see Heaven for the very first time?
I wonder what it’s like to see but not focus, to hear but not discern. To lay my head down for the last time, and then, like I’m being drawn by an invisible magnet, rise to the One who’s called Jesus.
To me, it’s a mystery much larger than life, though I know what I believe. And though I believe, there’s still the unknown world I’ve yet to see.
I can’t explain it. I can’t describe it.
Neither can I know what my loved one is seeing, thinking, or feeling as they sleep, hardly breathing, barely alive.
Then again, perhaps they’re more alive than I am!
For as this life fades, the next one grows clearer and closer, until finally, the anchor of hope is removed from the heart of the redeemed. Hope no longer is needed to steady the traveler; they’re finally home.
“For to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
Death is overcome by life.
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