My Father-in-law and I visited a man on his death bed recently, and this was my experience.
It was not my first time, but still…this reality gripped me once again.
“He’s going to see Jesus soon!”
The first time was with my Grandmother. She had lived a long life with Christ and her time was up. She was ready to see Jesus, and her body was tired of earth. She knew what it was to worship, to praise. She experienced the riches of committing life to her Savior. She spent many a morning with the Bible on her lap, just enjoying the love of her Jesus.
But this man was different. He has not known Christ for so long. He knows very little of what Jesus actually died to give him. He’s a baby in Christ, brand new, and he’s about to die. He’s a baby in the Lord, but soon he will “know even as he is known by God.”
Will he be shocked at what he sees? I think we all will when we finally get there. Even the most versed in the Word be prostrate when Jesus comes into view. It’s the scene of casting crowns at the feet of Christ. I love that scene.
Heaven is a place of humility, not of boasting.
This is what I told him. My heart was to comfort his heart.
“Sir, Do you know that because Christ lived, died and rose from the dead, you will never die?”
There was no response but only because of his physical condition. He could hear perfectly, but speaking was not easy for him.
I read to him from Revelation 21. The part that speaks of the glory of Heaven, the moment when Jesus will wipe away our tears. It says there will be no more pain, or crying… I prayed that the words would find there way to his heart.
Then I said “Jesus will comfort you. He will bring you to be with Himself the minute you die. You do not need to fear this process.”
He said he didn’t.
I was thinking about the story of Lazarus being carried by the Angels to a place of comfort. Lazarus’ life ended with much pain and poverty, but comfort immediately followed.
I wonder now how this was received coming from the perfectly healthy pastor at his bedside. He needed those words. We all do. So that’s what I told him.
Then I left him with this truth. “Whether you live (the Lord could heal Him), or whether you die, do so unto the glory of God. You belong to the Lord now.” These were not my words, but those of Paul’s in Romans 14:8 – “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”
I also told him I had mixed feelings sitting there. I was sad for his condition and pain, and for his family, but I was overjoyed that He would soon see the Lord.
It’s okay to have mixed feelings. Paul did too, and about the very same subject. What we all must do though is infuse our thoughts, as mixed as they are, with the solid truth of God. That is where hope is. That is where comfort is for every situation. My job as a pastor in that situation was not to become a crutch, but to bring into that room much more than a crutch. Because a crutch really does nothing for the spirit of a man. This man needed assurance from Heaven, gospel truth, ancient wisdom from the mighty King of Kings.
What is the bright spot in this story? The bright spot is Jesus, whom this man recently trusted with his heart, and now this man will never die.
Pray for him.