"And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them."
~ Matthew 10:13-16
Our answer to, "What happens when I die," has many responses, depending upon the person and their personal faith experience.
Yesterday I spent the morning with a sweet friend who is developmentally disabled. She has spent most of her life living in a group home. As I entered the building where she lives, she saw me and immediately asked me if I had brought her chewing gum. I reached into my pocket and pulled out two packages of her favorite brand. I opened one package, and took a stick out for her to enjoy.
Her smile was quick, and she immediately took the piece, holding it in her hands and placed it in her mouth. Her fingers, adorned by multi-colored nails, then clasped my hands and she said, "What song today?"
I asked her what she felt like singing. She began to sing in her low, gruffy voice, "This is the day. This is the day."
As I joined her in song her voice faded as she chewed her gum, looking out the window at trees with long strands of Spanish moss seemed to dance in the wind with our song. Then as I sang the end, she joined in louder than ever, "that the Lord has made!"
"Take me outside."
I pushed her in her wheelchair out under the trees we had just been watching. The sun was bright as we strolled under their canopy. I asked, "So do you ever think about what will happen when you die?"
Without hesitation, "I get to see Jesus!"
She looked at me, still chewing her gum, and staring up at the trees, "I get to see Jesus, and I get to go to heaven."
She began to sing, "He's got the whole world in His hands..."
I joined her as we sang how we all are in God's hands. I asked her if she was in God's hands, "Always," as she asked for another piece of gum. "This one is stale."
I smiled. This is how she usually let's me know it's time to either move a little further on our walk, or time to return inside.
I took her inside and gave her another piece. She gave me the piece she had just chewed to throw away and smiled quickly again as she took the fresh piece into her mouth.
There was a sense of joy as she began to sing, "I've got the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart."
Before I left we prayed together where she thanked Jesus for loving, "even me."
I am reminded that we are to come to God with a "faith like a child."
I always seem to leave our visits being reminded of that simple truth. That while we sing about joy, and the day that has been made, while God holds us all in "His hands," we will get to see Jesus! The simple faith of this sweet soul is the gospel message we all seek to know and understand.
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.