So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
~ Isaiah 41:10
Someone recently asked me how I live each day being with people who are dying? I have to admit, I get asked this question a lot.
Some days are harder than others, just like some of those encounters that I have.
It's easy to respond when thinking about someone who openly admits, "I've had a wonderful life, full of great experiences. I'm ready, whenever the Lord calls me."
Compared to the times when the first comments are, "I don't understand why this is happening to me? And happening now?"
Nine years ago when I was given a diagnosis following a car accident that included the word, "terminal," all I could think about was my two children. My prayer? I wanted to see my daughter fall in love for the first time, and my son grow into a man.
It's interesting, the things one thinks of when we are about to encounter death, or as I have begun to respond, "eternity."
We live in a society where death is avoided at all cost. The baby boomer generation is suddenly driving medical procedures, television commercials that reveal all kinds of problems facing an aging population, and the church seems to be turning itself inside out to adapt to keep people entertained and focused on everything else but what we all know. At some point, the reality of our faith must cross the threshold of mortality. The presence of eternity must begin with a final chapter.
I don't always have an answer for the "Why?" In fact, I don't even try. The fact that we live in an imperfect world, filled with humanity's ability to choose, and the reality that at some point our bodies will simply "give out" doesn't provide comfort, but our faith can and does.
As one of my patients shared, who happened to be an English teacher, "my last sentence on earth will include a powerful comma," as she referred to her death.
While I realize that each of us will make this journey, for me, the reality of eternity meets me each day. So often as I read the 23rd Psalm while someone lays dying, I encounter these words, "surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
It is the balance between that last step, and the next, that reminds me that each of us will invite eternity to be part of our life's journey.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.