To live also means to die. Death is something that each of us will experience at some point in our lives, it’s the final journey of living that we walk with God. For us who are living, and have sat along side someone in their dying stages, we know it’s a journey where we can come alongside the person that is dying, but cannot fully know what they are experiencing. There is a mystery and a beauty in death that cannot be explained.
Last night I was honored to sit with a man as he took his final breath. I went to his room to check on him and pray for him before leaving for the night, and when I entered his room his eyes were open, he was breathing shallow, and his hands were like ice. I called for the nurse and she said he was actively dying, and it wouldn’t be too long. We sat at his bedside together, until she was called away, and then it was just me. This man was 101 years old, born at the start of WWI, a pilot in WWII. Never married or had any children because he cared for his mother for 25 years. He had probably watched many of his loved ones die, and now it was his time. I held his hand, sang Amazing Grace, prayed, and told him it was okay to go, that his journey was done. Before he died, he took one last gulp of air, squeezed his eyes shut, opened them, and tears fell from his eyes.
Death has a mysterious beauty. Often we don’t see that because our only experience of death is the grief we feel when someone we love dies. But in death there is freedom. There is no more pain, no more suffering.
Psalm 23 says,
“The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
The Lord does prepare a place for each of us at his table, a place he has set aside specifically for us, because he loves us, and he welcomes us to his table. In death we are not alone, because the Lord walks with us. He leads us into his Kingdom and gives us the beauty of eternal life. I don’t know what that looks like, but I have seen glimpses of His beauty, and I imagine those glimpses are just a fraction of the beauty that is yet to come.