As our Pastor of Congregational Care at St. Luke’s, I see many people who are very ill and some who are near death. Oftentimes these are people who I have known for years and have come to love and appreciate. I consider it a sacred privilege that they allow me to spend time with them, especially when their earthly time is dwindling.
I believe in dying, many of them receive a gift of sorts. It is a clarity that some people seem to have before their death about their lives and the life about to begin. Many times, that clarity is accompanied by a calmness of spirit that I imagine a person of great faith should exhibit as their impending death draws near. People who have celebrated Easter all their lives seem to finally understand what the resurrection is all about – the realization that God truly never leaves us. He has guided us through our earthy life, and now he waits to greet us as we take that step from this life into the next. What will they discover on the other side? They’re not sure, but they’re convinced that the God who makes everything new has something wonderful for them to experience. There will be new things to discover and new ways to love.
Not too long ago, I went to visit someone in our family of faith who was dying. We visited for a time and then I offered to pray for them. I said a prayer of thanksgiving for their life and then thanked God for receiving this person into His heavenly kingdom. The second I said amen this person began to pray for me. They asked God to continue to bless my ministry and to let me know we shouldn’t be afraid. “Our God is not a God of fear,” they prayed, “but a God who has overcome death.” They said death is a beautiful transition to the life to come, and that life is full and just as abundant as our life here.
I will always remember that prayer and the final gift that person offered to me – and to all of us – as we contemplate the gift of eternal life this Easter. Be not afraid… God has not abandoned us, but beckons us to one day join Him as He reveals the mysteries of this life and the next.
Rev. Dave Poteet, Pastor of Congregational Care