Friday, December 16, 2011

Stepping into the Great Unknown

"There’s a step that we all face alone, an appointment we have with the Great Unknown." – Bob Hartman.

Much has been said and written about dying. What I have to write about it is nothing new and I am quite sure that there are many people out there who can pontificate about the subject with far more eloquence than me.

But death is a raw subject that is meant to be discussed in a raw way. There’s no other way to discuss it than in matter-of-fact openness. It happens to every one of us and there is no escape from it.

My friend Sonny is going home today to die. He has end-stage cancer and it’s inoperable. Yesterday while in his hospital room, I asked him what the doctors are saying, meaning how much time does he have left, etc. I was hesitant from being blunt as I normally am around Sonny for the sake of those in the room who many not share such openness about the subject. He said to me and his relatives in the room that everyone wants to tiptoe around the subject, but stated that the truth of the matter is that he’s dying and he’s OK with that. Over the past year as he has dealt with his cancer, he said that dying isn’t the problem but has been more contemplative over God using him in the lives of others. I will say with a certainty that Sonny’s humility and courage has made a permanent mark in my life.

No, death is not the problem. It’s an open door to eternity. For those who will get upset reading this to argue with me about proof of an afterlife, I will say believe what you want. But whatever you do believe about death still requires faith. My faith is in Jesus who died and rose again, so what is there to worry about? But I still need to have faith and believe that when I breathe my last and the lights go out, that my existence will go on. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5:8. If there is a God then I have to believe that He has all aspects of life covered from birth to death. And I would rather cling to a hope that God will hold my hand during that time than to just be afraid not knowing what to expect, or that life is going to go on without me. If God has been with me through other times in my life, why would the end of my final chapter be any different?

Honestly, I still can’t wrap my head around it all right now. But I don’t need to be concerned with that right now. For Sonny, God is revealing Himself to him and granting him that special measure of grace to get him through the most difficult thing in life. That’s why he can say with confidence and a smile that he’s dying, and he’s accepted that because Jesus is waiting for him. And for that I am encouraged. With Him waiting, what is there to fear?

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