Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: This story is about someone who fears death because they don’t know what’s next, someone who says they know Christ but fears death, and someone who lived for Christ and knows where they are headed.

How often do we as humans think about our mortality? Generally something has to jog our brains a bit before we being to really contemplate the seriousness of life and death. Maybe we see a horrific accident on the news, a national disaster such as hurricane Katrina, or even now an act of terror such as September 11th. We put our time into many activities to keep us preoccupied so that we do not have to face the reality that our lives change from day to day and we will one day have to face the end. How do you feel about that day? You know the day when, in reality, you will face death. Most of us think about our own mortality when a relative or friend passes away. We think, “He was only my age how could he have passed.” He got cancer at the age of forty-seven; wow that must be tough.

Different people approach the idea of mortality differently. A person’s view on life, the purpose of mankind, the innate value of a person, and other such important issues can find themselves on many different sides of the issue of death. Some people don’t believe in an after life while others don’t think about it until the very end and find themselves greatly afraid of what they do not know. Yet, there is another group on the other side of this issue that should have absolute confidence in their eternal home and yet so many of those fear because they aren’t absolutely sure. In my work I have encountered many people and many different faces of those who have approached death’s door. I have been to quite a few bedsides during the last hours of people’s lives. Let me take you through what I have seen and heard. Let me take you through what I say and what I don’t say so that you have a better picture of what I see.

As soon as I get the phone call, I begin prepping myself for the upcoming encounter with the family. I try to control my voice, inflections, and how I sound so that I present a calm and caring influence. “I will be there as soon as possible,” I guarantee as I rush out of the door. As I hurry to the place of their final hours, I prepare myself for the coming onslaught of questions and emotions that preempt the final hours of life. I know full well that soon enough I must have the answers they seek and that yet also I must have perfect control of what I say in those moments. Sooner than I think I begin pulling into the parking place where my car will rest. All that drive disappeared in what felt like a matter of seconds. I quickly enter the building and head for the elevator. I mentally prepare myself as I slowly walk down the corridors of the hospital. They are grayish green, bleak with hurried nurses running around. As I walk I notice the dead silence of the hospital. All you can really hear is the clicking of shoes. I step past the nurses’ station and towards the door of the one passing. Lightly knocking on the door, I make my presence known by peeking in to make sure I am welcome. After just a brief few steps I stand before those who have gathered; close family. Now, the conversation goes one of two ways at this point: 1) they have great doubts of their fate or 2) they know exactly where they are going.

Let’s start with scenario number 1: they have no idea what’s coming and doubt their fate. I’ve seen so many people questioning what will happen next, can they do anything to assure them, will they go to heaven? It’s like watching someone drown in a sea of doubt and regret, begging for a life raft to help them through this storm and I don’t have a life raft like that. You look into their eyes and you see the emptiness of their soul searching for anything resembling hope. I tell them about Christ’s saving grace and the eternity he promises. I tell them they should have listened to the truth about Christ and accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. I can see the emptiness and fear in their eyes begging me to give them one ounce of hope but at this point I have told them all there is to know except that God judges the tenor of ones life. You cannot have a tenor of life if you accept Christ and pass-away. I don’t tell them this because God is the judge of all mankind and He will make a just ruling about their lives. God is the judge and he will do what is right in His sight; not mankind’s. As I stand next to the bedside I watch in sadness with the family as a loved one passes away. The family wants to believe nothing more than that they are in a perfect place with no more pain or trouble. I look around holding their hands and hugging them trying to give them some solace and comfort during this dark hour in their lives. I can see the doubt in their eyes as well. They are grabbing at straws that give them hope as well. They want to believe that their beloved family member is in heaven. I don’t have the heart to tell them that without Christ they have no chance of entering heaven. I wouldn’t want to crush their already hurting hearts. At this point I say a prayer, asking God to care for the family left behind and to help with the grief of losing a loved one because nothing more can be done for the deceased. That person is in the hands of God now.

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