For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ... 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.
~ John 3:16
Yesterday afternoon I spent time with a woman who has encountered death twice. One time she woke up in a hospital room, intubated, and breathing with the support of a machine. The other, she choked and lost consciousness. Her daughter and son-in-law worked to revive her. Both times she doesn't remember anything about the event. Both times she awoke, surrounded by people who loved her.
As she continues to make her way now as one of my hospice patients, she has been spending a lot of time reading about near-death experiences, and what people experienced. We both laughed as we wished that Lazarus had written a gospel, "Life beyond the grave," after Jesus wept over him and raised him from the tomb.
What we did realize in our conversation is that both times when she awoke from her experience she was surrounded by those who loved her, and asking, "Why wouldn't her life beyond death be surrounded by love as well?"
In John 3:16 we are reminded of just how much God loves each of us in God's sending of Jesus. This demonstration is the very nature of God.
Claiming the love of God is the first step in loving ourselves, but also, the initial understanding of that love.
For this woman, it is not the fear of dying that causes her to spend hours reading of encounters with death, it is the "wanting to know," what heaven will actually be like.
Our existence in this world is actually quite short when you begin to think about eternity. Realizing that we are God's beloved allows us to grow in that love. The love of God carries us from this life into eternity. The greatest gift of all is love.
Recognizing each day that we are invited into a journey of love makes our lives abundantly fruitful and full. Just as I know for this woman, and each of us, that there will be God's amazing love to greet us when we take our last breath, the love we experience will be enough to last into eternity.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.