God has always blessed me with a sense of peace in the presence of death. As a pastor I have stood by many a person and their family as the neared that threshold into eternity that is known as death. I have even had the boldness and the God-granted confidence that God will take someone home to be with Him. Funeral homes are not intimidating places. ICUs are simply another place to be the reminder of God’s presence. Even accident scenes, as gruesome as they may be, are not a place I fear to tread.
More than once I have been asked to accompany someone to a funeral home. In hospital rooms where siblings are fighting and grieving while Mom breathes, God has allowed me to be His presence and to anchor them once again to the Rock of our Salvation.
Once I was with a family at the hospital after their father had been taken in following a serious heart attack accompanied by other complications. He had made his living will several years before and had given me a copy. He had explained very carefully to his family that once he reached a semi-vegetative state with his organs only surviving on life support, there were to be no extraordinary measures taken. This was the third trip within a few months and each one had become progressively worse. He was in a coma, non-responsive with only a 10% survival chance and no chance that his organs would operate again without serious and costly assistance. The family had made their peace and said “good bye” and indicated that they were prepared to adhere to the living will. Then the doctor balked saying he’d like another day before withdrawing life support, which then itself sent the family into a crisis mode. And I had to duty to talk the doctor into adhering to the patient’s wishes, the family’s consent and to surrender his feeling that he could not be at peace with allowing a dying man to die. And this I did without hesitation and inner strength.
“I do death.”
No, that does not mean I advocate assisted suicide or callously consent to agreeing to let a patient die because his survival could bankrupt his family.
It’s because I know that one someone has placed their trust into God’s hands of salvation, when I myself have become one of His Easter People – that nothing will separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. I affirm with the apostle Paul that we who have passed from death to life need no longer fear death. It is not an unwelcome intruder. Death has been defanged by our Living Hope.
“Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:54 New Living Translation
So when someone must walk in the deep valley of the shadow of death, they can count on me as a willing travel companion.
(C) 2011 by Stephen L Dunn