Monday, October 26, 2015

When I come to die

Chapter 7 in Scot McKnight's marvelous book 'The Heaven Promise' is entitled: "Facing Death Standing in the Empty Tomb: Learning From Those Who Have Gone Before Us."

I don't honestly think much about death and/or dying. I guess it's just never been something that bothered me all that much. I have been with my share of people facing death's door. Some face is quite calmly, and others... Well, it's no fun watching someone enter with a look of horror in their eyes.

This chapter is devoted mainly to stories of how people of faith have faced their death. Reading it makes me hope all the more that when my time comes, the thing I am most concerned about is having a good relationship with my wife, children, and grandchildren. Dare I pray, even, that my death might be life-giving to them - if such is possible. Not that they won't be sad, but that they might be hopeful.

Of the stories Scot shares in this chapter, I like this one from Gary Black Jr. about the passing of his friend Dallas Willard:
After the family left, I must have fallen asleep again and awoke at 4:30 am when a nurse came in to turn him. When she did, he awoke briefly. I took his hand. He told me to tell his loved ones how much he was blessed by them, how much he appreciated them and that he would be waiting for them when they arrive. I assured him I would... There was joy in his eyes. Something had changed. Or something was about to change.

I then told him the nurse was ready to administer some more medicine and he was going to go back to sleep. I told him I thought this time he might not wake up. I asked him if that was what he wanted. He said yes with a slight but distinct little grin. I looked up at the nurse. She heard his words and increased the pain medication. I kissed him on the forehead and said goodbye one last time. He closed his eyes and smiled. I sat back in the chair next to his bedside and watched him take maybe 10 quiet breaths. There was no sign of pain on his face. No hiccups, no cramping, no waves of teeth-grinding agony, no coughing. Just peaceful rest. Then, in a voice clearer than I had heard in days, he leaned his head back slightly and with his eyes closed said, 'Thank You.'

Yeah... if I get to choose, I want to go like that. I'm not in any hurry though.

This also reminds me of one of my favorite songs we used to sing at church: Fernando Ortega's "Give Me Jesus."