Monday, August 18, 2014

For all Eternity

  This essay appeared in the Sunday Gazette-Mail as an Essay on Faith
on August 17, 2014
On his death bed, my father looked at the young nurse who was attending him and said, “Do you know the Lord?”
She answered, “Yes sir, I sure do!”
He smiled.
A few moments later, he took his last breath and entered into his eternal home, still wearing the beautiful smile. I can’t say with any degree of certainty, but I’ve heard it said that the expression a person has on his or her face at the moment of transition is the one that remains forever and that no mortician, no matter how creative, can erase it. Supposedly, this makes it easy to tell if the dying person was happy, sad, afraid or disappointed.
Perhaps this sounds a bit far-fetched. But, think about it. Don’t you always come away from a viewing with an opinion about how the dearly departed looked? I suppose the assessments we hear most are, “He looks so natural!” Or, “She looks so peaceful!”
My mother looked particularly beautiful lying on the light-blue taffeta lining of the coffin we chose for her, her silver hair sparkling in the light. Everyone who saw her remarked about the magical talents of the mortician. She had been ill for many months, but there was no indication of illness on this face that looked at least twenty years younger than its actual years. The man she’d been keeping company with for a while said to me, “I always knew your mother was pretty, but I never thought of her as this beautiful!”
Is it possible that, just before death, one sees what lies ahead for him and that determines the look that is fixed on his or her face for all eternity?
There is, it seems, some verification of foresight regarding the destiny of one’s soul:
It is reported that Professor J.H. Huxley, the famous agnostic, as he lay dying, suddenly looked up at some sight invisible to mortal eyes, and after staring a while, whispered, "So it is true."
As he lay near death, D. L. Moody proclaimed, “Earth recedes, Heaven opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go."
“I shall be with Christ, and that is enough,” said renowned chemical scientist, Michael Faraday when his wife asked him, on his deathbed, “Have you ever pondered what your occupation will be in the next life?”
Winston Churchill, the man whose vision and battle cry was to “never give up,”
said on his death bed, “I am convinced that there is no hope.”
Thomas Hobbes, the atheist, said, “I am taking a fearful leap into the dark.”
Catherine Booth, wife of the founder of the Salvation Army, cried out, “The waters are rising, but I am not sinking.”
And George MacDonald, the English novelist, said, “I came from God, and I’m going back to God, and I won’t have any gaps of death in the middle of my life.”
Even with these and many more reported testimonials, there are some who still don’t believe in Heaven or hell.
No one can prove unequivocally that there is a Heaven or a hell. Nor can anyone prove there isn't. The evidence, however, confirms that there are both. Yet it is our own personal decision, by our own free will, to examine and either accept or reject the evidence.
The best validation we have is from Jesus Christ and God's Word. Speaking about Heaven,  Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. In my Father’s house there are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:2-3)
God's invitation to Heaven is open to everyone. It’s simple. If we believe, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. But if we don’t believe, we have everything to lose and nothing to gain.  It’s our choice.
"Whosoever will may come."