By Tim Sumner
The River Ministries,
What really happens as we pass from life to death? An event this week caused me to wonder.
A friend told me that his father had passed away last Sunday. He went to see his dad in the nursing home on Thursday evening and the report came back that he was in excellent health. He told his dad that it looked like he would be around for quite a while yet.
Dad told my friend that he was tired and ready to go. His wife and siblings had left him and passed on. His friends around town had left him and passed on. Now it was time for him to go to be with them.
That didn’t sit well with my friend who told his dad that they needed to talk about something else. And so they did. They spent the next couple of hours together. Finally the time came for my friend to leave. He told his dad that he couldn’t come back until Saturday but they would talk again then.
Saturday came and my friend went to see his dad who was laying in his bed sleeping. But his eyes were partially open. He tried to talk to his dad, but there was little response so he stayed near, reading a magazine.
After a bit, his dad’s eyes opened and he looked above him to the right. And then he looked off to the left. Then he raised his hand as if to reach out to someone or something. My friend held his dad’s hand thinking that maybe he was reaching for his son. But what was really happening at that hour?
Midday Sunday brought the news that his dad had passed. How could someone who seemed so healthy on Thursday be gone by Sunday? What was dad seeing and what was he reaching for?
Then he recounted another story. His mother had contracted pneumonia and was placed in the hospital. His aunt was to go into the hospital for a checkup on her heart from surgery a year earlier. They ended up with rooms right next to each other. Late one night his aunt came into his mother’s room to say goodbye. The aunt wasn’t talking about checking out of the hospital. She was talking about checking out of life. Her husband had passed on several years ago and she was missing him and wanting to be with him.
From outward appearances the aunt was healthy and would live quite a while. But early the next morning the news came that she had passed on. Really?
Wondering about that process of passing from life to death has resulted in some research and some soul searching for me. We seem to hang onto life as if it is all there is. But is it? My occupation allows me to be present when people breathe their last breaths. Many have been very peaceful and I have observed them beginning to see what they are being drawn to. They look into the distance and reach with their hand. They begin to see what we can only talk about.
I expect that I will see the passing of my own parents. And as they have asked me to take care of the funeral, I have had to contemplate the message. The title will be: “A Change of Address.”
The Bible promises that those who give attention to the spiritual dimension while living on earth can be eager to pass on to something much much better.
Jesus said in John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)
So – what do you believe? And is it true?